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The pharmacology of the autonomic nervous system.

Robinson, Bryan.
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About this work


This film shows, through detailed animated diagrams, the function of the autonomic nervous system - a system of the body responsible for the control of the cardiovascular and digestive systems, as well as controlling the function of many of the body's glands; including the salivary, sweat and adrenal glands. The lecturer (face not shown, but likely to be Bryan Robinson, mentioned in the credits) describes and shows how the autonomic nervous systemis split into two parts consisting each of the parasympathetic and the sympathetic nerves. He describes and shows the different functions of each part and explains their role in the body.


London : University of London Audio-Visual Centre, 1971.

Physical description

1 encoded moving image (20.56 min.) : sound, color




Copyright note

University of London

Language note

In English

Creator/production credits

Made by Bryan Robinson, PhD, Department of Pharmacology, Guy's Hospital Medical School and John Metcalfe. Made by University of London Audio-Visual Centre.


This video is one of around 310 titles, originally broadcast on Channel 7 of the ILEA closed-circuit television network, given to Wellcome Trust from the University of London Audio-Visual Centre shortly after it closed in the late 1980s. Although some of these programmes might now seem rather out-dated, they probably represent the largest and most diversified body of medical video produced in any British university at this time, and give a comprehensive and fascinating view of the state of medical and surgical research and practice in the 1970s and 1980s, thus constituting a contemporary medical-historical archive of great interest. The lectures mostly take place in a small and intimate studio setting and are often face-to-face. The lecturers use a wide variety of resources to illustrate their points, including film clips, slides, graphs, animated diagrams, charts and tables as well as 3-dimensional models and display boards with movable pieces. Some of the lecturers are telegenic while some are clearly less comfortable about being recorded; all are experts in their field and show great enthusiasm to share both the latest research and the historical context of their specialist areas.


Segment 1 The lecturer shows animated diagrams of the pathways of the autonomic nervous system, describing its general function and showing how it is divided into two parts - the parasympathetic and the sympathetic. He points out the differences between the two parts and differentiates their roles in the mechanisms of the body. A film is shown in which the effect of drugs on the nervous system of an anaesthetised cat is explained. The film goes through the process of cannulating the cat and details are given as to how the nervous system will be measured throughout the experiment. Time start: 00:00:00:00 Time end: 00:06:00:00 Length: 00:06:00:00
Segment 2 Electrodes are attached to nerve endings in the cat, then an animated diagram is used to explain the effects of stimulation on the sympathetic nerves following injections of noradrenaline and adrenaline. We then return to the film of the anaesthetised cat and the effects of injecting noradrenaline and adrenaline are shown. An animated diagram showing the function of alpha-and beta-receptors at the sympathetic nerve endings is shown. Time start: 00:06:00:00 Time end: 00:12:06:00 Length: 00:06:06:00
Segment 3 Animated diagrams detail what happens when the parasympathetic nerves are stimulated. We return to the film of the anaesthetised cat and see the effects of stimulation on the parasympathetic nerves. Alpha- and beta-receptors are blocked experimentally with drugs and the effects of this is shown on the cat. Time start: 00:12:06:00 Time end: 00:17:19:00 Length: 00:05:13:00
Segment 4 Other alpha- and beta-receptor drugs are experimented with on the anaesthetised cat and the various drugs are described and listed. The lecture is summarised while a final animated diagram is shown. This details how transmission in the autonomic nervous system can be blocked at various siges and how different drugs can elicit this. Time start: 00:17:19:00 Time end: 00:20:56:16 Length: 00:03:37:16


  • English

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