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Published by: SUTHAN on May 28, 2009
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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
(Redirected from Neurons)Jump to:navigation, search This article is about cells in the nerve system. For other uses, see Neuron (disambiguation).Drawing bySantiago Ramón y Cajalof neurons in the pigeon cerebellum. (A) DenotesPurkinje cells, an example of a bipolar neuron. (B) Denotesgranule cellswhich are multipolar.
, also known as
nervous cells
) areresponsivecells in thenervous systemthat process and transmit information by electrochemical signalling. They are the core components of the  brain, thevertebrate spinal cord, theinvertebrate  ventral nerve cord,and the peripheral nerves. A number of specialized types of neurons exist:sensory neurons respond to touch, sound, light and numerous other stimuli affecting cells of thesensory organs that then send signals to the spinal cord and brain. Motor neurons receive signalsfrom the brain and spinal cord and causemuscle contractionsand affectglands. Inter-neurons connect neurons to other neurons within the brain and spinal cord. Neurons respond to stimuli, and communicate the presence of stimuli to the central nervous system, which processes thatinformation and sends responses to other parts of the body for action. Neurons do not go throughmitosis, and usually cannot be replaced after being destroyed, althoughastrocyteshave been observed to turn into neurons as they are sometimes pluripotent.
Structure of a typical neuron
The complexity and diversity in nervous systems is dependent on the interconnections betweenneurons, which rely on a limited number of different signals transmitted within the neurons toother neurons or to muscles and glands. The signals are produced and propagated by chemicalions that produce an electrical charge that moves along the neuron. Neurons exist in a number of different shapes and sizes and can be classified by their morphology and function. The anatomistCamillo Golgigrouped neurons into two types; type Iwith long axons used to move signals over long distances and type II without axons. Type I cellscan be further divided by where the cell body or soma is located. The basic morphology of type Ineurons, represented by spinal motor neurons, consists of a cell body called the somaand a long thinaxonwhich is covered by themyelin sheath. Around the cell body is a branchingdendritic treethat receives signals from other neurons. The end of the axon has branching terminals (axonterminal
) that release transmitter substances into a gap called the synaptic cleft between theterminals and the dendrites of the next neuron. The anatomy and the properties of the surfacemembrane determine the behavior of a neuron. The surface membrane is not uniform over theentire length of a neuron, but is modified in specific areas: some regions secrete transmitter substances while other areas respond to the transmitter. Other areas of the neuron membranehave passive electrical properties that affect capacitance and resistance. Within the neuronmembrane there are gated ion channels that vary in type, including fast response sodiumchannels that are voltage-gated and are used to send rapid signals.
 Neurons communicate bychemicalandelectrical synapsesin a process known assynaptic transmission. The fundamental process that triggers synaptic transmission is theaction potential,  a propagating electrical signal that is generated by exploiting theelectrically excitable membrane of the neuron. This is also known as a wave of depolarization.Fully differentiated neurons are permanentlyamitotic
 ; however, recent research shows thatadditional neurons throughout the brain can originate from neural stem cells found throughout the brain but in particularly high concentrations in the subventricular zoneandsubgranular zone through the process of neurogenesis.
[edit] History
The neuron's place as the primary functional unit of the nervous system was first recognized inthe early 20th century through the work of the Spanish anatomistSantiago Ramón y Cajal.
Cajal proposed that neurons were discrete cells that communicated with each other viaspecialized junctions, or spaces, between cells.
This became known as theneuron doctrine, oneof the central tenets of modern neuroscience.
To observe the structure of individual neurons,Cajal used a silver staining method developed by his rival, Camillo Golgi.
The Golgi stain is anextremely useful method for neuroanatomical investigations because, for reasons unknown, itstains a very small percentage of cells in a tissue, so one is able to see the complete microstructure of individual neurons without much overlap from other cells in the densely packed brain.
[edit] Anatomy and histology
Diagram of a typicalmyelinated vertebrate motoneuron.  Neurons are highly specialized for the processing and transmission of cellular signals. Given thediversity of functions performed by neurons in different parts of the nervous system, there is, asexpected, a wide variety in the shape, size, and electrochemical properties of neurons. For instance, the soma of a neuron can vary from 4 to 100 micrometers in diameter.
Thesomais the central part of the neuron. It contains thenucleusof the cell, and therefore is where most protein synthesisoccurs. The nucleus ranges from 3 to 18micrometers in diameter.
Thedendritesof a neuron are cellular extensions with many branches, and metaphoricallythis overall shape and structure is referred to as a dendritic tree. This is where themajority of input to the neuron occurs. Information outflow (i.e. from dendrites to other neurons) can also occur, but not across chemical synapses; there, the back flow of a nerveimpulse is inhibited by the fact that an axon does not possess chemoreceptors anddendrites cannot secrete neurotransmitter chemicals. This unidirectionality of a chemicalsynapse explains why nerve impulses are conducted only in one direction.
Theaxonis a finer, cable-like projection which can extend tens, hundreds, or even tens of thousands of times the diameter of the soma in length. The axon carries nerve signalsaway from the soma (and also carries some types of information back to it). Manyneurons have only one axon, but this axon may - and usually will - undergo extensive branching, enabling communication with many target cells. The part of the axon where itemerges from the soma is called the axon hillock . Besides being an anatomical structure, the axon hillock is also the part of the neuron that has the greatest density of voltage-

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