Neuroscience

How nerves may lose their insulation

Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) disease is the most common inherited disorder of the peripheral nerves in humans, affecting 1 in every 2,500 people. There is no cure for the disease, which causes severe disability due to disruptions ...

Medical research

New approaches to heal injured nerves

Injuries to nerve fibers in the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves usually result in functional losses as the nerve fibers are unable to regenerate. A team from the Department of Cell Physiology at Ruhr-Universit├Ąt Bochum ...

Psychology & Psychiatry

Traumas change perception in the long term

People with maltreatment experiences in their childhood have a changed perception of social stimuli later as adults. This is what scientists from the Division of Medical Psychology at the University of Bonn have discovered. ...

Medical research

How neuromuscular connections are maintained after nerve lesions

After nerve injury, the protein complex mTORC1 takes over an important function in skeletal muscle to maintain the neuromuscular junction, the synapse between the nerve and muscle fiber. Researchers at the University of Basel's ...

Medical research

An 'EpiPen' for spinal cord injuries

An injection of nanoparticles can prevent the body's immune system from overreacting to trauma, potentially preventing some spinal cord injuries from resulting in paralysis.

Neuroscience

How a popular antidepressant drug could rewire the brain

Prozac, the trade name for the drug fluoxetine, was introduced to the U.S. market for the treatment of depression in 1988. Thirty years later, scientists still don't know exactly how the medication exerts its mood-lifting ...

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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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