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What are the parts of the neuron?

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On numerous occasions we have talked about the nervous system, the cells that make it up, their functions and what happens when they do not work properly. Now, what makes up the neuronal cells that inhabit the nervous system?

Throughout this article we will talk about the different parts of neurons, as well as its main characteristics and the functions that each one of them has and that make possible the transmission of information throughout the entire nervous system.

  • Related article: "Types of neurons: characteristics and functions"

What is a neuron?

Neurons are small cells that inhabit our nervous system and that are responsible for activating or inhibiting the electrical activity of this. Sun's main function is to receive electrical stimuli and lead them to other neurons. This stimulus or electrical reaction is known as action potential.

Therefore, neurons send an infinite amount of action potentials to each other that make possible the functioning of our nervous system, thanks to which we can move our muscles, feel pain or even Sound.

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It is estimated that, in our brain alone, there are around 86 billion neurons. However, at the time of our birth there may be more than 100 billion. The reason for this decrease in the amount is that over the years our brain ages and the number of neurons begins to decline.

However, this does not mean that our neurons can only die. In our day to day, not only the degeneration of neurons occurs, but also their regeneration.

It is currently believed that our brain is in constant neuronal regeneration. Thanks to the process known as neurogenesis, the creation of new neurons and new neuronal connections occurs. In addition, some studies assure that, especially during childhood, we can enhance this birth of new neurons through a series of exercises and activities that exercise our brain.

Main parts of the neuron

As mentioned above, the neuron constitutes the functional and structural unit not only of our brain, but of the entire nervous system. These are made up of different parts, each with specific characteristics and specific functions.

These parts are known as the soma or cell body, dendrites, and axon.

1. Soma or cell body

The first part that we will talk about is the soma or cell body. As its name indicates, the soma constitutes the center of the neuron, and This is where the metabolic activity of this.

New molecules are generated in the soma and all kinds of essential functions are carried out that make possible the vital maintenance of the cell and its functions,

In order to carry out these functions and achieve the transmission of information between neurons, each of them must produce huge amounts of protein, without which this transmission would not be possible.

In addition, within the cell body we can find some organelles also present in cells of another type such as lysosomes and mitochondria, the Golgi apparatus or the very chromosomes that define our genetics. All of this is located in the cytoplasm, which constitutes the soma of the neuron.

Finally, within the neuronal cytoplasm as well fibrillar proteins are found, which form the cytoskeleton. This cytoskeleton is what shapes the neuron and provides a mechanism for the transport of molecules.

  • Related article: "Neuronal soma or perikaryon: parts and functions"

2. Dendrites

Another of the parts that make up neurons are dendrites. This name refers to the numerous extensions in the form of small branches that are born from the neuronal body and whose main functions are to receive stimuli and provide food to the cell.

These extensions function as neuronal terminals, which receive the action potentials of other nearby neurons and redirect them to the cell body or soma. In addition, due to its branched shape, along these we find dendritic spines, small spines in which the synapses that make possible the transmission of bioelectric impulses.

  • You may be interested: "What are the dendrites of neurons?"

3. Axon

Finally, the axon it is the main prolongation of the neuron (and the largest). It is responsible for transporting the action potential from the cell body to another neuron.

This very long extension arises from the cell body or, on some occasions, from a dendrite. Inside we can find the axoplasm, a characteristically viscous substance in which the different organisms of the neurons are found.

One of the main characteristics of these axons is that may be covered in a layer known as the myelin sheath, which can enhance or facilitate the speed with which action potentials or electrical stimuli are transmitted.

In addition, neurons can be classified into different types according to the length of the axon: Golgi type I and type II neurons, or according to their shape: pyramidal cells of the cerebral cortex and purkinje cells.

4. Other neural elements

In addition to the main parts of the neuron described above, there are other particles or sections of great importance for the correct functioning of these. Some of these parts are:

Schwann cells

Also known as neurolemocytes these cells line the axons of neurons of the peripheral nervous system and they are formed by myelin sheaths.

Myelin sheaths

As mentioned above, some axons have a myelin layer that facilitates the transmission of electrical stimuli over long distances.

Ranvier's nodules

This concept refers to the tiny spaces found in the myelin sheath and its main purpose is to enhance the speed with which electrical impulses are transmitted.

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