Many visceral organs are innervated by both divisions of the autonomic nervous system. In most instances, when an organ receives dual innervation, the two systems work in opposition to one another. In some tissues and organs, the two innervations exert an opposing influence on the same effector cells (e.g., the sinoatrial node in the heart), while in other tissues opposing actions come about because different effector cells are activated (e.g., the circular and radial muscles in the iris).
Some organs are innervated by only one division of the autonomic nervous system.
Many neurons of both divisions of the autonomic nervous system are tonically active; that is, they are continually carrying some impulse traffic. The moment-to-moment activity of an organ such as the heart, which receives a dual innervation by sympathetic (noradrenergic) and parasympathetic (cholinergic) neurons, is controlled by the level of tonic activity of the two systems.
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