What function do you think the three major regions of a neuron serve?


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Neurons are the cell type (primarily) responsible for communication and integration in the nervous system.

Neurons (nerve cells) have three parts that carry out the functions of communication and integration: dendrites, axons, and axon terminals. They have a fourth part the cell body or soma, which carries out the basic life processes of neurons. The figure at the right shows a "typical" neuron.

Neurons have a single axon is the output of the neuron. Axons are long (up to several feet long), but thin - - sort of like a wire. They are designed both in shape and function to carry information reliably and quickly over long distances (communication). Axons usually branch to connect to go to different neurons. Axon terminals at the end of axons make the actual connection to other neurons.

Axons carry information from the senses to the CNS (Central Nervous System, brain and spinal cord), from one part of the CNS to another, or from the CNS to muscles and glands, which generate the behaviors you do.

Neurons usually have several dendrites (from the Greek dendron, for tree branches) are the input to a neuron. Dendrites are designed both in shape and function to combine information the information they get (integration). Most neurons have several dendrites, each of which may branch up to six times to collect signals from the axon terminals from other neurons that cover it. They are covered with synapses(connections) from many other neurons and combine the signals they get from these synapses.


The neuron consists of:

  • Cyton or the cell body which has the nucleus and the mitochondria and ribosomes of the cell. They provide the power and the growth of the cells. They can be modified in the sensory system as corpuscles.
  • The dendrites which act as the recieving centres. They connect with the axons of multiple neurons and form interlinking chains between the cells. They also form free nerve endings in sensory neurons.
  • The axon, which is just the modified dendrite. It forms the outlet of the cell. The outgoing signals are transmitted in the form of the neurotransmitters. They interact either with dendrons of other neurons, or with muscles at the motor end plates. They can be myelinated or non-myelinated which alters the conduction speed from 0.3-0.5 m/s in unmyelinated neurons to around 60-120 m/s in myelinated neurons.

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