When humans, years ago, set out to discover the mysteries of the world and unravel the secrets that govern our very body, they set the starting point for what was to become a revolutionary science. And in this journey, they made startling discoveries that changed the way we lead our lives. The discoveries were many. Along the way, they compartmentalized and named the different systems that work together to keep our body in perfect working condition. Amongst these systems, the nervous and endocrine systems were found to work in beautiful coordination to maintain homeostasis. Let’s talk about the structural unit of the nervous system called neuron and nerves.
Neuron Vs Nerves
The neural or nervous system is a complex network of nerve cells or neurons. The nervous system is specialized to carry messages while the endocrine system provides chemical integration through hormones. To better understand the nervous system, one must realize the difference between a neuron and a nerve. Neurons are cells that form the core of the nervous system as they have the ability to receive and transmit signals. They have characteristic elongated shape and consist of three parts:
- Nerve cell body: It consists of the eukaryotic cell components like the nucleus, endomembrane system, and organelles.
- Dendrites: Tiny projections branching out at the neuron’s receiving end, of the nerve cell body. They act like tiny antennas that pick up signals from other cells.
- Axon: A long, thin fiber that extends from the nerve cell body. It branches at its tips to end in synaptic terminals that are marked by swellings called synaptic knobs. Many axons happen to be insulated by a fatty myelin sheath, which is formed by cells called Schwann cells. Between the Schwann cells, one finds small gaps in insulation called the nodes of Ranvier.
A bundle of axons is termed as a nerve. Nerve signals travel rapidly along the axons of myelinated nerves as the electrical signals tend to hop along the axon from gap to gap, rather than having to flow along the whole axon. Scientists have named this type of nerve conduction the saltatory conduction.
This is a brief introduction to neuron and nerves. To learn more download the Byju’s – The Learning app.
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