What is a neuron

Neurons are cells of the nervous system specialized in the transmission of information. Through the excitation of its plasma membrane act as receptors of stimuli which in turn will drive the nerve impulse between other neurons or cells distributed by the rest of the body. There are millions in our body, being fundamental for the functioning of the nervous system in its three aspects: sensitive, motor and integrated or mixed.

In order to study the neuron in conditions it is essential to know the parts that form it. Its importance lies in the fact that it allows us to perfectly understand the function of the neuron as an isolated discrete entity as well as forming the neural network. Taking into account that mature neurons do not regenerate or divide, we can understand the enormous importance for the correct functioning of the human body.

Parts of the neuron

The structure of the neurons is relatively simple, being able to clearly differentiate the way of acting of each of its parts. However, current research has cast doubt on its most basic foundations found situations where other cells act in a similar way to neurons in their function of transmitting information. In the same way, there are neurons that behave in a way that is contrary to the neuronal doctrine created by Ramon y Cajal.

- Body or cell soma: It is the main part of the neuron where we will find all the components that a cell needs to live. The most important of all is the nucleus to contain DNA, although we also find other fundamental parts such as ribosomes or mitochondria, essential for cell function. If the cell body is degraded, we lose the entire neuron.

- Axon: Prolongation of the soma that is covered by Schwann cells. It looks similar to a cable and can be coated with myelin, acting as an insulator. The axon itself has several parts, its function being to transmit the nerve impulse. The sensory and motor neurons have such a myelin layer, while neurons in the brain and spinal cord lack them.

- Dendrites: They are located on the sides of the cell, allowing the neuron to communicate with others. They feed the cell by collecting nutrients from around it, also serving as stimulus receptors. Other neurons send their impulses being picked up by the dendrites which transmit them directly to the cellular soma. They are numerous and short extensions of the soma itself although sometimes in the spinal sensory neurons there is an axon between the dendrites and the soma.

Neuron functions

The most important feature of neurons is that they are capable of transmitting information with great speed and precision at long distance. They can communicate with muscle neurons, sensitive and with other neurons properly, acting all thanks to the nerve impulse. They start from the dendrites looking to connect with other neurons, causing the nerve impulse to advance through the soma, reach the axon and move from the axon to the terminal buttons, which release neurotransmitters making the synapse with which they will connect with the target cells.

To understand the neuronal circuit, it is necessary to mention the interneurons, which act as their name indicates as intermediaries between the original neuron and the target cell to which they want to reach. One way to understand the neural circuit is to refer to the reinforcement of synapses or connection between neurons. When a person skilled in a task is faced with a stimulus that is used to take less time to react and will be more precious because there are more neurons involved to be reinforced the synapse. If a new person faces the same task, their neurons will work more slowly, having to transmit unknown information until now, producing that a competent neural network has not yet been established.

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