Master Parasympathetics with Picmonic for Medicine

With Picmonic, facts become pictures. We've taken what the science shows - image mnemonics work - but we've boosted the effectiveness by building and associating memorable characters, interesting audio stories, and built-in quizzing.


Recommended Picmonics

picmonic thumbnail
Somatic Dysfunction
picmonic thumbnail
picmonic thumbnail
Fryette's Principles of Spinal Motion
picmonic thumbnail
Sympathetics I
picmonic thumbnail
Sympathetics II


Parasympathetic activity comes from the brainstem and the sacrum and knowing the specifics is high yield for the COMLEX. Note that while there are parasympathetic nerves other than the vagus nerve and the pelvic splanchnic nerves these are low yield. The vagus nerve (cranial nerve X) originates in the medulla and facilitates the parasympathetic activity of the viscera above the diaphragm and many viscera below the diaphragm. The pelvic splanchnic nerves arise from the sacral plexus and innervate the reproductive organs, lower urinary tract, and parts of the gastrointestinal tract. Somatic dysfunctions of the sacrum and upper cervical spine can contribute to abnormal autonomic tone. Treatment of somatic dysfunctions of occipitoatlantal joint, atlanto-axial joint, and C2 can balance parasympathetic tone to the viscera via the vagus nerve. Treatment of sacral somatic dysfunctions can balance parasympathetic tone in the pelvic splanchnic nerves.
Thoracic Viscera
Thor Visor

The vagus nerve provides parasympathetic innervation to the viscera above the diaphragm. It causes decreased heart rate and contractility, increases bronchial gland secretion and increased contraction of bronchiolar smooth muscle.

Proximal Gastrointestinal Tract
P-rocks and GI-guy

The proximal portion of the gastrointestinal tract receives parasympathetic innervation from the vagus nerve. This includes the distal esophagus, stomach, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, spleen and small intestine. Parasympathetic tone in these organs causes increased motility, increased secretions and relaxation of sphincters.

Ascending and Transverse Colon
Rising Colon and Transverse Colon

The ascending and transverse colon both receive parasympathetic innervation from the vagus nerve. Parasympathetic input causes increased contractions, secretions and motility as well as relaxation of various sphincters.

Descending and Rectosigmoid Colon
Falling Colon and Rectangle-s-mud Colon

The descending and sigmoid colon as well as the rectum are the only parts of the gastrointestinal system that receive parasympathetic innervation from the pelvic splanchnic nerves. Input from these nerves is similar to input from the vagus nerve in that it causes increased contractions, secretions and motility as well as relaxation of various sphincters.

Lower Urinary Tract
Lower Urinary Tract

The pelvic splanchnic nerves provide innervation to the lower urinary tract. Parasympathetic input causes contraction of the detrusor muscle and relaxation of the internal sphincter, resulting in bladder emptying. Parasympathetic input to the ureter may increase contractility.

Reproductive Organs
Reproductive Organs

The reproductive organs receive parasympathetic innervation from the pelvic splanchnic nerves. Parasympathetic input is responsible for production of erection in penile tissue.


Take the Parasympathetics Quiz

Picmonic's rapid review multiple-choice quiz allows you to assess your knowledge.

It's worth every penny

Our Story Mnemonics Increase Mastery and Retention

Memorize facts with phonetic mnemonics

Unforgettable characters with concise but impactful videos (2-4 min each)

Memorize facts with phonetic mnemonics

Ace Your Medicine (MD/DO) Classes & Exams with Picmonic:

Over 1,820,000 students use Picmonic’s picture mnemonics to improve knowledge, retention, and exam performance.

Choose the #1 Medicine (MD/DO) student study app.

Picmonic for Medicine (MD/DO) covers information that is relevant to your entire Medicine (MD/DO) education. Whether you’re studying for your classes or getting ready to conquer the USMLE Step 1, USMLE Step 2 CK, COMLEX Level 1, or COMLEX Level 2, we’re here to help.

Works better than traditional Medicine (MD/DO) flashcards.

Research shows that students who use Picmonic see a 331% improvement in memory retention and a 50% improvement in test scores.