The Nervous System Diagnosed Essay, Research Paper
outside the central nervous system. Understanding how the neurons work is vital to understanding the nervous system. Neurons The neuron has two important structures called the dendrite and axon, also called nerve fibers. The dendrites are like tentacles that sprout from the cell and the axon is one long extension of the cell. The dendrites receive signals from other neurons, while the axon sends impulses to other neurons. Axons can extend to more than a meter long. Average sized neurons have hundreds of dendrites; therefore it can receive thousands of signals simultaneously from other neurons. The neuron sends impulses by connection the axon to the dendrites of another nerve cell. The synapse is a gap between the axon and the adjacent neuron, which is where data is transmitted from one neuron to another. The neuron is negatively charged and it bathes in fluids that contain positively charged potassium and sodium ions. The membrane of the neuron holds negatively charged protein molecules. The neuron has pores called ion channels to allow sodium ions to pass into the membrane, but prevent the protein molecules from escaping (potassium ions can freely pass through the membrane since the ion channels mostly restrict sodium ions). When a neuron is stimulated (not at rest), the pores open and the sodium ions rush in because of its attraction to the negatively charged protein molecules, which makes the cell positively charged. As a result, potential energy is released and the neurons send electrical impulses through the axon until the impulse reaches the synapse of any neurons near it. Once the signal is sent, the ion balances out and becomes at rest. The electrical impulse that runs down the axon releases a chemical called acetylcholine, only one of many chemicals that transmits signals across the synapse. These substances are called neurotransmitters because they.