Neuronal Functions

Essay by Prue750A, December 2006

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Neurons are a vital component to human functioning, especially the neurons located in the brain. In fact without neurons, behavior as we know it would cease to exist. These specialized cells's main function is communication and they operate by processes of both chemical and electrical reactions. Neurons constantly relay messages between one another via "action potentials". Action potentials are electrical currents which run the length of the axon and signal the terminal boutons to release neurotransmitters. The structures inside the neurons are what will reveal how each of these actions is performed.

Neurons are just like any other cell in the body in that they contain organelles (i.e. nucleus, mitochondria, endoplasmic reticulum, etc.). What make them special are the locations and numbers of component parts they have that facilitate their duty of communication. As mentioned, all cells are comprised of organelles (minuscule structures that help the cell to work properly).

The nucleus (which also contains the nucleolus) is like the brain of the cell in that it is the control center that holds all of the DNA-encoded information that the cell needs in order to create proteins. DNA information is recorded by mRNA and then brought to the ribosomes where it's used to actually produce the proteins. From there, the proteins can do one of two things. They can either travel within the cell to be used for its own functioning, or they can be shipped outside of the cell by the golgi apparatus to be used by other cells. Another organelle inside cells is mitochondria. Mitochondria are in charge of producing energy for the cell. This is done by breaking down glucose into its component molecules in order to generate ATP. ATP is the cell's source of energy.

Throughout the body there are three kinds of neurons; multipolar neurons,