Neurons: Why is something so small so important?

Has someone ever told you that doing drugs kills brain cells and wondered what those brain cells are and why they are so important? Brain cells consist of Glial cells (supporting cells) and Neurons. Glial Cells provide structure and support for the neuron and assist with taking out the “trash” in the brain. They remove things like dead cells and waste. Neurons are the communication system. They are the building block of the brain systems.

 Killing neurons is not a good thing because some researchers think neurons you are born with are the limit of the neurons you have for the rest of time. New research looks into the possibility of neurogenesis or creation of neurons. One sad aspect of the new research is that there could be more creation of neurons it just occurs very slowly and will not fully replace what was lost.

Each person’s body contains billions of neurons and people don’t have to think to make them work, just as one doesn’t think to make their body breath.

What is inside a neuron?

Neurons have different parts and functions. The dendrites which are at the end of the soma or cell body are what receives information from other neurons. The soma contains the nucleus and cytoplasm which are core elements for cells because the nucleus contains genes and coding which can determine how and what messages are sent. Then there is the axon. The axon is the path that messages are sent with. The axon takes the message along the long stem and takes it to the terminals that transmit the message via brain chemicals called neurotransmitters to the next neuron. Some neurons have coverings called myelin sheath. The purpose of the myelin sheath is to speed the process of the message traveling down the axon up.

What is next?

            The next blog is covering action potentials. Action potentials are the messages and how they travel along the axon. The next blog will be discussing the electrical and chemical aspects of the neuron communication process.

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