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Anatomy Review

Graphics are used with permission of:

Pearson Education Inc., publishing as Benjamin Cummings (
Page 1. Introduction

• The structure of neurons reflects their function.

• One part of the cell receives incoming signals.

• Another part generates outgoing signals.

Page 2. Goals

• To understand the basic anatomical features of neurons and the function of each anatomical region.

• To understand information flow in neurons and the structural basis for communication between neurons.
Page 3. Neurons Can Communicate

• Because of their unique anatomical design, and because they are excitable, neurons can communicate.

• Neurons communicate with:

1. each other

2. muscles

3. glands

Page 4. Neurons Have Three Characteristic Structural Features

• Neurons come in many different shapes and sizes. In this module we will examine the most common central nervous system neuron, the multipolar neuron.

• All neurons have three characteristic structural features:

1. a cell body

2. a receptive portion

3. a transmitting portion

In most neurons, the cell body, or soma, is located centrally.

Multiple branching processes, called dendrites, extend from the soma, forming a structure resembling the branches of a tree.

• A thin single process, called the axon, also extends from the soma.
Page 5. Neuron Structure is Related to Function

• How the structural features of a typical neuron are related to its function.

Dendrites. Receptive and integrative region of the neuron.

• The branched dendrites receive signals coming in from other cells and send them toward the axon.

• Sum up, or integrate, the incoming signals.

Cell Body. Receptive and integrative region of the neuron.

• The cell body is the main nutritional and metabolic region of the neuron.

• Receives signals from other cells and sends them toward the axon.

• Sum up, or integrate, the incoming signals.

Axon. The transmitting or conductive region of the neuron.

• The axon generates an action potential, an outgoing signal also called a nerve impulse, and conducts it to the next cell.

• Label the parts of this neuron:

• Neurons receive and integrate signals at one location and transmit an action potential at another location.

Page 6. Information Flow In Neurons Is Directional

• Information flow in neurons is directional.

• The incoming signals are integrated, and if the summed signal is large enough, an outgoing signal, or action potential, is generated.

• The action potential is conducted along the axon toward the target cell.

• With arrows, label the input and output on this neuron:

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