Neuron/synapse Structure and Function – Psychology 12 – Luka Mladenovic

There are 3 types of nerve cells. Represented here is the Interneuron.

Neuron Function 
– Neurons are electrically excitable cells in the nervous system that function to process and transmit information. They are the basic working unit of the brain, a specialized cell designed to transmit information to other nerve cells, muscle, or gland cells. Most neurons have a cell body, an axon, and dendrites. The cell body contains the nucleus and cytoplasm. The axon extends from the cell body and often gives rise to many smaller branches before ending at nerve terminals. Dendrites extend from the neuron cell body and receive messages from other neurons. Synapses are the contact points where one neuron communicates with another. The dendrites are covered with synapses formed by the ends of axons from other neurons. In vertebrate animals, neurons are the core components of the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves.
How action potential moves along the neuron fiber
The nerve impulse is a signal called an action potential. The action potential is an electrical charge that goes down an axon. The neuron can get input from other neurons from neurotransmitters and the action potential goes down the axon when it reaches the axon terminal it stimulates all of the other neurons.


The photo below is a photo of the Structure of a Synapse along with its parts labeled.

Synapse Function 

  • It’s the structure that permits a neuron to pass an electrical or chemical signal to another neuron or to the target effector cells a synapse, one neuron sends a message to a target neuron—another cell. At a chemical synapse, an action potential triggers the presynaptic neuron to release neurotransmitters. These molecules bind to receptors on the postsynaptic cell and make it more or less likely to fire an action potential.

How a signal is sent from the axon of sending neuron to the dendrite of receiving neuron

  • The axon of the sending neuron does not actually touch the dendrite of the receiving neuron. there is a tiny gap between them, the synaptic cleft, the neurotransmitters travel across the synapse between the axon and the dendrite of the next neuron.

How the receiving neuron “determines whether or not to send its own action potential.

  • The receiving neuron will determine whether or not to send its own action potential if it sees if it is excitatory or inhibitory. Excitatory is when the stimulates action potential on the receiving neuron and inhibitory is the repress’s action potential on the receiving neuron.


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