Difference Between Nervous System and Endocrine System

The basic difference between the nervous system and the endocrine system is that the nervous system uses electrical signals or impulses to send messages through neurons. In contrast, the endocrine system uses hormones as a chemical messenger to send signals to the target cell through the bloodstream in the body.

Both nervous and endocrine systems allow communication between the cells, tissues, and organs. These systems have the responsibility to control and coordinate the signals given to the body, internally or externally. This regulation aids in maintaining the homeostasis and other activities of the system.

It is important to know that both systems are regulated by the negative feedback mechanism. Though their major mode of transfer and time differs but the chemical messengers play a major role in both systems.

Comparison Chart

Basis for Comparison Nervous System Endocrine System
Definition The nervous system is the network of nerve cells and fibers that transmit nerve impulses between parts of the body. The endocrine system is a chemical messenger system of the body
Organs of the body involved Brain and spinal cord Glands
Rate of response Quick response Slow response
Chemical messengers Nerve impulses Hormones
Kind of response Localized response Widely spread
Cell types Neurons, Schwann cells and glial cells Epithelial cells
Duration of response Temporary and reversible response Permanent response
Signals transmission By neurons Through the bloodstreams or body fluids
Entry into target cells Nerve impulses use neurotransmitters at synaptic clefts and sodium and potassium channels. Hormones diffuse through cell membranes or attach with receptors.
Control of system Voluntary and involuntary control Involuntary control
Sensory information Does transmits and interprets sensory information Does not transmits and interprets sensory information
Types Two types: The central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system.

What is the Nervous system?

The nervous system is the important system of the body that responds to the stimuli by using electrical signals (action potential) along the neurons and then these electrical signals are transmitted to the target cells with the use of neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are called the chemical messenger of the nervous system.

The nervous system is the primary control system of the body. This system has numerous nerve cells, which are found in the brain. The spinal cord acts a vital role in transmitting the signals like a nervous system. The spinal cord works as the main path from where these electrical signals are transmitted from the brain to the outer part of the body.


The nervous system has two parts; the central nervous system (CNS) and the peripheral nervous system (PNS). The central nervous system includes the brain and the spinal cord and the peripheral nervous system includes the autonomic and somatic nervous systems.

The brain is situated in the skull and its shape looks like a mushroom. Its weight is about 1.3 to 1.4kg, having neurons and glia. The neurons are the nerve cells and the glia is the supporting cell. The brain has further four parts; the cerebrum, the cerebellum, the brain stem and the diencephalon. The spinal cord is the tube-like part composed of a series of 31 segments and each segment contains a pair of spinal nerves. The sensory nerve and the motor nerve are located in the region of the spinal cord only. The spinal cord is the collection of bones and weighs up to 35 to 40g. Its length is 43 cm in length.

The peripheral nervous system has two parts; the autonomic or involuntary nervous system and the somatic or voluntary nervous system. The first one involves the regulation of the processes such as breathing rate, the blood pressure, whereas the latter one connects the brain and the spinal cord with the sensory receptors and the muscles in the skin with the aid of the nerves.

The nervous system helps to control emotions and respond to different things. It happens through the electrical signals that run throughout the body from the brain.

What is the Endocrine system?

The endocrine system includes a network of glands that secrete chemicals in response to the stimuli. Hence the hormones are also called the chemical messengers. The endocrine system releases hormones to evoke the response from the target cells. These hormones are secreted by the special glands at near-by or distant from their target cells. Then, they gradually travel through the blood or other intercellular fluids.

The endocrine system takes a long time to give respond, as hormones are first produced, ultimately sent to the target cell and then it performs its function inside the cell. In simple language, they give a signal to the target cell and the action remains for a long time.


The endocrine system comprises about 21 glands. Major glands are the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, thyroid and parathyroid gland, and pineal gland. The kidneys, pancreas and the adrenal gland are found in the stomach, whereas the ovaries and the testes are present in the abdominal region of the body. These glands perform different important functions to regulate homeostasis. The study of psychology and endocrine systems is called behavioral endocrinology, which is the scientific study of the interaction between hormones and behavior.

By maintaining the functions of the body, these glands help in regulating homeostasis. For example, pituitary glands secrete growth hormones that are responsible for the growth of the body, especially in childhood, but along with that heart rate, cellular metabolism, and breathing are also maintained simultaneously.

Key Differences

  1. The nervous system comprises the brain and spinal cord, whereas the endocrine system includes multiple glands that secrete hormones.
  2. Electrical impulses act as the messengers in the nervous system, whereas hormones are the messengers in the endocrine system.
  3. In the nervous system, nerve impulses are transmitted through the neurons, whereas, in the endocrine system, hormones are transmitted through the blood vessels.
  4. The nervous system gives a quick response to the stimuli by the action potential and neurotransmitter, whereas the endocrine system responds slowly by secreting hormones.
  5. The nervous system is both a voluntary and involuntary system, whereas the endocrine system is only an involuntary system.
  6. In the nervous system, responses are localized, whereas, in the endocrine system, responses are widespread.

Key Similarities

  • Both systems help in the coordination of the different parts of the body.


In conclusion, both the nervous system and the endocrine system are important parts of the human body. Both work differently but help in the coordination of the different parts of the human body.

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