News tagged with axons

Related topics: nerve cells , neurons , brain , neurodegenerative diseases , cells

Steering the filaments of the developing brain

During brain development, nerve fibers grow and extend to form brain circuits. This growth is guided by molecular cues (Fig. 1), but exactly how these cues guide axon extension has been unclear. Takuro Tojima ...

Aug 01, 2014
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Scientists shed new light on nerve cell growth

Amidst the astounding complexity of the billions of nerve cells and trillions of synaptic connections in the brain, how do nerve cells decide how far to grow or how many connections to build? How do they coordinate these ...

Jul 10, 2014
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Two-way traffic in the spinal cord

The progress a baby makes in the first year of life is amazing: a newborn can only wave its arms and legs about randomly, but not so long after the baby can reach out and pick up a crumb from the carpet. ...

Dec 19, 2013
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Schizophrenia: It's in the wiring of the brain

Just as wires must be insulated to effectively carry electrical impulses, nerve cells must be insulated by myelin to effectively transmit neural impulses. Using typical magnetic resonance imaging or MRI, one can visually ...

Sep 16, 2013
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Axon

An axon or nerve fiber is a long, slender projection of a nerve cell, or neuron, that conducts electrical impulses away from the neuron's cell body or soma.

An axon is one of two types of protoplasmic protrusions that extrude from the cell body of a neuron, the other type being dendrites. Axons are distinguished from dendrites by several features, including shape (dendrites often taper while axons usually maintain a constant radius), length (dendrites are restricted to a small region around the cell body while axons can be much longer), and function (dendrites usually receive signals while axons usually transmit them). All of these rules have exceptions, however.

Some types of neurons have no axon—these are called amacrine cells, and transmit signals from their dendrites. No neuron ever has more than one axon; however in invertebrates such as insects the axon sometimes consists of several regions that function more or less independently of each other. Most axons branch, in some cases very profusely.

Axons make contact with other cells—usually other neurons but sometimes muscle or gland cells—at junctions called synapses. At a synapse, the membrane of the axon closely adjoins the membrane of the target cell, and special molecular structures serve to transmit electrical or electrochemical signals across the gap. Some synaptic junctions appear partway along an axon as it extends—these are called en passant ("in passing") synapses. Other synapses appear as terminals at the ends of axonal branches. A single axon, with all its branches taken together, can innervate multiple parts of the brain and generate thousands of synaptic terminals.

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