Neurons and Glial Cells

Free Response

How are neurons similar to other cells? How are they unique?


Neurons contain organelles common to all cells, such as a nucleus and mitochondria. They are unique because they contain dendrites, which can receive signals from other neurons, and axons that can send these signals to other cells.

Multiple sclerosis causes demyelination of axons in the brain and spinal cord. Why is this problematic?


Myelin provides insulation for signals traveling along axons. Without myelin, signal transmission can slow down and degrade over time. This would slow down neuronal communication across the nervous system and affect all downstream functions.

Many neurons have only a single axon, but many terminals at the end of the axon. How does this end structure of the axon support its function?


A single axon means that a neuron can only send one signal at a time (one electrical impulse down the length of the axon). However, since the axon has multiple terminals it can send the signal to several other cells at once. This ensures that the signal is rapidly propagated to the rest of the body.