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Neuron

Chemical synapse schema croppedNeurons are functional units of the Nervous System specialized on receiving and sending electrical signals. Neurons communicate between bioelectrical signals named action potential and synapses. The synaptic connection enables neurons to behave as a network.  The different parts of the neurons are highly specialized.

 

Cell body: also called soma, is the central part of the Neuron. Most of the protein synthesis of the cell is occurring in it and it holds the nucleus that contains the DNA.

The Axon hillock is a specialized part of the soma that connects it to the axon. It is considered to be the point where the decision is made, whether the neuron will fire an axon potential or not.

An Axon is a very long that conducts electrical impulses away from the soma. It transmits information to different neurons, muscles and glands. The information signals are transported in form of action potentials, which are discrete electrochemical impulses that travel fast along the axon - starting at the cell body and ending at points of the synaptic contact with the target cell.

There are two types of axons, with a myelin sheath and without. Myelin is a layer of a fatty insulating substance formed by Glial cells. Gaps that occur at evenly-spaced intervals in the myelin sheath are known as nodes of Ranvier. The myelination enables a quick proceeding of electrical impulses; this propagation is the so called saltatory conduction.

Dendrites are branching from the soma. Their job is to conduct the electrochemical information, coming in from other neurons, to the cell body. Electrical stimulation is also transmitted onto the dendrites by upstream neurons via the synapses that are located on the dendritic arbor.

Spines are located on the dendrites receiving excitatory input from axons of other cells. They are highly plastic, what means, that they can change in shape, volume and number in a relatively short time, in terms of higher or lower stimulation.

Synapses are anatomo-functional structure through which neurons sens and receive informations. They can be considered the docking stations in the Nervous System. There are two types of synapse chemical and electrical. In chemical synapsesthe signals are passed between non contacting cells via neurotransmitters released in intersynaptic spaceThe current opinion is that synapses play a crucial role in memory formation.

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