CogniFit's Science blog: Let's Talk About Our Friends The Neurons

Let's Talk About Our Friends The Neurons

Neurons are an integral part of our nervous system. The nervous system can be thought of the information superhighway of the body and is where information can flow between our brain and different parts of our body.

The nervous is composed of billions of cells. The most prevalent are neurons or nerve cells. It is estimated that the nervous system contains as many as 100 billion neurons.

Neurons are brain cells and they contain all the key parts which any other cell normally possesses. But there are a few specialized structures in a nerve cell which makes them unique.

The primary part of a neuron is called the soma or cell body. It contains the nucleus of the cell which is composed of chromosomes.

Neurons are unique cells in that they possess a large number of structural extensions called dendrites. These structures resemble branches or spikes from emanate from the cell body. It is the surfaces of these dendrites which receive chemical messages from other neurons.

A special kind of dendrite is called the axon. These are longer than other dendrites and their purpose is to transmit an electro-mechanical signal to other neurons, sometimes over long distances. In the neurons which comprise the nerves within your spinal cord, the axons can be as long as three feet.

Longer axons are normally covered with a myelin sheath. This is a series of fatty cells which are wrapped around the axons several times. They provide a function similar to insulation on wires.

In looking at the axons, there is an area at the very end of them called a variety of names including the bouton, the synaptic knob, the axon foot, etc. There is no consistent term. It is at this point that the message which has travelled along the length of the axon is transferred to a chemical message capable of travelling to the next neuron.

Neurons are miraculous and complex cells which enable instantaneous and effective communication to all parts of the body. They are specialized in their function and do their jobs well under most circumstances.

However they are subject to damage and may be affected by a number of diseases. Some of them can be treated while others have no real cure.  There are a number of treatments which have been developed to help minimize the impact of these diseases and allow the neurons to perform their job in the most effective manner.

Based on brain plasticity, brain fitness can help create new neuronal network in our brain (alos referred as neurogenesis). By using an effective brain training program, you can actively create new neurons! Isn't it fantastic?!