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Neurons

A neuron is a specialized cell of the nervous system (neuron is a nerve cell). The main function of neurons is to carry information in the form of electrical pulses from one part of the body to the other.  

The tissues of the nervous system are made up of two types of cells: neurons or nerve cells, which transmit information in the form of electrical signals; in the smaller supporting cells (glial cells) which surround them.  

Common Features  

 Neurons are the large, highly specialized cells of the nervous system, whose function is to receive information and transmit it throughout the body. Although via variable and structures neurons have some features in common: 

Cell Body 

The neuron possesses a single body cell from which a variable number of branching processes emerge. 

Dendrites 

Dendrites are thin, branching processes of the neuron, which are in fact extensions of the cell body. 

Axon  

Each neuron has an axon carrying electrical pulses way from the body.  

 Characteristics 

Neurons have several other special characteristics:  

  • Neurons cannot divide and so cannot replace themselves of damaged or lost.  
  • Neurons live for a very long time; as they cannot replace themselves, they need to last for a lifetime. 
  • Neurons have very high energy requirements and so cannot survive for more than a few minutes without oxygen or glucose from the blood.  

 Structural Types of Neuron  

There are three major groups of neurons based on the number of processes extending from their cell bodies: 

Multipolar Neurons  

Multipolar neurons have many processes extending from the cell body, all except one of which (the axon) are dendrites. This is the most common form of neuron, especially within the central nervous system. Sometimes the axon is absent.  

Bipolar Neurons  

Bipolar neurons have only two processes: a single dendrite and an axon. This type of neuron is unusual within the body, and they are found in special sense organs such as the retina of the eye.  

Unipolar Neurons  

Unipolar neurons have a single process, which is divided into a peripheral process that receives information, often from a sense receptor, and a central process which enters the central nervous system. 

Neuron Function 

Neurons may also be classified according to their functions into sensory (or afferent) neurons and motor (or efferent) neurons. Most Sensory neurons are unipolar while motor neurons are multipolar. 

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