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•  Neurons transmit electrical impulses

Neurons are specialised cells that function to transmit electrical impulses within the nervous system

  • The nervous system converts sensory information into electrical impulses in order to rapidly detect and respond to stimuli

While neurons may differ according to role (sensory, relay or motor), most share three basic components:

  • Dendrites – Short-branched fibres that convert chemical information from other neurons or receptor cells into electrical signals
  • Axon – An elongated fibre that transmits electrical signals to terminal regions for communication with other neurons or effectors
  • Soma – A cell body containing the nucleus and organelles, where essential metabolic processes occur to maintain cell survival

In some neurons, the axon may be surrounded by an insulating layer known as a myelin sheath

  • The myelin sheath improves the conduction speed of electrical impulses along the axon, but require additional space and energy

Structure of a Typical Nerve Cell (Motor Neuron)


Adapted from ASU Ask A Biologist. © Arizona Board of Regents