What are neurons? Why are neurons important? What do neurons do? What are the different types of neurons? Sounds a little intimidating? No need to be afraid. All it requires to understand neurons (at least basic knowledge) is a bit of patience and focus. In this article on Neuron facts, we are going to present answers to all the aforementioned questions in the simplest possible way. Stay with us for a while and we are pretty sure that for a smart person like you, neurons will no longer pose a serious challenge. So, let us begin…
Neuron Facts: 1-5 | What are Neurons?
1. There are 4 major types of tissues in our body. One of them is the Nervous Tissue. The Nervous Tissue makes up the nerves, the spinal cord and the brain.
2. The Nervous Tissue is made mainly of two types of cells – the Neurons (nerve cells) and the Neuroglia or the Glial Cells. Glial Cells are integral part of the Nervous Tissue because they are support cells and are very necessary. However, we will keep Glial Cells for another article.
3. Neurons on the other hand are the primary structural and functional cells of the Nervous Tissue. They are highly specialized cells.
4. These Neurons are electrically excitable. This means that they get excited by electrical impulses. They are designed for fast transmission of information in form of signals – both chemical and electrical in nature.
5. Neurons are major components of our brain, our central nervous system, our peripheral nervous system, our spinal cord and our autonomic ganglia.
Neuron Facts: 6-10 | Structure of Neurons
6. There are Neurons of various sizes and shapes. However, a typical Neuron found in a vertebrate body such as humans, the structure of a Neuron can be generally broken down into four broad regions.
7. The four broad regions of a Neuron are: Soma, Dendrites, Axon and Synaptic Terminals. The whole of the Neuron remains wrapped up in a cell membrane.
8. The Soma is the cell body. It is enlarged and is pretty much the same as other cells that are found in a body. The Soma is responsible for carrying out all metabolic and protein synthesis activities of the neuron. It is this Soma inside which you can find:
- The nucleus of the cell.
- Other cell organelles like the Mitochondria, Golgi Apparatus, Endoplasmic Reticulum etc.
9. The Dendrites are small Cytoplasmic extensions of the Neurons. These Dendrites extend out in a tree-like fashion. These extensions are designed for receiving signals, which are transmitted towards the Soma.
10. Then comes the Axon. It is also a Cytoplasmic extension but it is very long and not branched out like the Dendrites. The job of the Axon is to send signals away from Soma.