Last update: October 2, 2022
By BrainMatters

A neuron, or nerve cell, is a special kind of cell that is specialized in receiving, processing and passing on information. Contrary to what many people think, these cells are not only found in the brain but also in the rest of the body. In the rest of the body they are involved in transmitting sensory information or controlling muscles. The exact number of neurons in the brain is unknown, but it is estimated to be more than 100 billion. Fortunately, these neurons are all interconnected, and form a network that is responsible for our functioning..

A neuron is a special kind of cell and can easily be recognized. To receive signals, most neurons have dendrites. You could compare these dendrites to a kind of antenna. These antennae are connected with another cell via the synapse. All incoming signals to the dendrites add up, and determine the electrical charge of the cell body. When this electrical charge reaches a specific value, the threshold, the neuron fires. When a cell fires, an action potential is created across the cell's axon. In simplified terms, the axon is a thin tube connected to the cell body over which an electrical signal can travel very quickly.

Author: Myrthe Princen (translated by Pauline van Gils)

Image: Marcel Loeffen

The term neuron is featured in the following brian matters articles:
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