Encyclopedia of Animal Cognition and Behavior

Living Edition
| Editors: Jennifer Vonk, Todd Shackelford

Afferent and Efferent Impulses

Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-47829-6_1255-1



Neural impulses which travel from sensory organs/receptors to the central nervous system (CNS) are known as afferent impulses, whereas those which travel from the CNS to the organs/glands are known as the efferent impulses.


Those nerve cells which help in communication of action potentials (neural impulses) between the central nervous system and other body organs form the part of peripheral nervous system (PNS) (Baars and Gage, 2010). Depending upon the direction of this signal, neural impulses can be divided into two:
  1. (a)

    Afferent: neural impulse carries signals from sensory receptors or organs to the brain or spinal cord (CNS) for their further processing/analysis and

  2. (b)

    Efferent: neural impulse carries signals from brain or spinal cord (CNS) to the organs (like limbs, muscle, glands, etc.) for displaying proper reaction.

Due to their function, nerve fibers which carry afferent impulses are known as afferent nerves or...
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  1. Baars, B. J., & Gage, N. M. (2010). Neurons and their connections. In Cognition, brain, and consciousness (pp. 69–71). Burlington: Academic.Google Scholar
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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Neural and Cognitive Sciences, School of Medical SciencesUniversity of HyderabadHyderabadIndia

Section editors and affiliations

  • Oskar Pineno
    • 1
  1. 1.Hofstra UniversityLong IslandUSA