Dendrite

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Structure of a typical neuron
Dendrite

Dendrites (from Greek δένδρον déndron, "tree"), also dendrons, are branched protoplasmic extensions of a nerve cell that propagate the electrochemical stimulation. received from other neural cells to the cell body, or soma, of the neuron from which the dendrites project. Electrical stimulation is transmitted onto dendrites by upstream neurons (usually via their axons) via synapses which are located at various points throughout the dendritic tree. Dendrites play a critical role in integrating these synaptic inputs and in determining the extent to which action potentials are produced by the neuron. [1] Dendritic arborization, also known as dendritic branching, is a multi-step biological process by which neurons form new dendritic trees and branches to create new synapses. [1] The morphology of dendrites such as branch density and grouping patterns are highly correlated to the function of the neuron. Malformation of dendrites is also tightly correlated to impaired nervous system function. [2] Some disorders that are associated with the malformation of dendrites are autism, depression, schizophrenia, Down syndrome and anxiety.

Neurotransmission

Neurotransmission, is the process by which signaling molecules called neurotransmitters are released by the axon terminal of a neuron, and bind to and react with the receptors on the dendrites of another neuron. A similar process occurs in retrograde neurotransmission, where the dendrites of the postsynaptic neuron release retrograde neurotransmitters that signal through receptors that are located on the axon terminal of the presynaptic neuron, mainly at GABAergic and glutamatergic synapses.

Soma (biology) The portion of the cell soma (neuronal cell body) that excludes the nucleus

The soma (somas), perikaryon, neurocyton, or cell body is the bulbous, non-process portion of a neuron or other brain cell type, containing the cell nucleus. The word 'soma' comes from the Greek 'σῶμα', meaning 'body'. Although it is often used to refer to neurons, it can also refer to other cell types as well, including astrocytes, oligodendrocytes, and microglia. There are many different specialized types of neurons, and their sizes vary from as small as about 5 micrometres to over 10 millimetre for some of the smallest and largest neurons of invertebrates, respectively.

Neuron electrically excitable cell

A neuron, also known as a neurone or nerve cell, is an electrically excitable cell that communicates with other cells via specialized connections called synapses. It is the main component of nervous tissue. All animals except sponges and placozoans have neurons, but other multicellular organisms such as plants do not.

Contents

Certain classes of dendrites contain small projections referred to as dendritic spines that increase receptive properties of dendrites to isolate signal specificity. Increased neural activity and the establishment of long-term potentiation at dendritic spines change the size, shape, and conduction. This ability for dendritic growth is thought to play a role in learning and memory formation. There can be as many as 15,000 spines per cell, each of which serves as a postsynaptic process for individual presynaptic axons. [3] Dendritic branching can be extensive and in some cases is sufficient to receive as many as 100,000 inputs to a single neuron. [4]

Long-term potentiation

In neuroscience, long-term potentiation (LTP) is a persistent strengthening of synapses based on recent patterns of activity. These are patterns of synaptic activity that produce a long-lasting increase in signal transmission between two neurons. The opposite of LTP is long-term depression, which produces a long-lasting decrease in synaptic strength.

Dendrites are one of two types of protoplasmic protrusions that extrude from the cell body of a neuron, the other type being an axon. Axons can be distinguished from dendrites by several features including shape, length, and function. Dendrites often taper off in shape and are shorter, while axons tend to maintain a constant radius and be relatively long. Typically, axons transmit electrochemical signals and dendrites receive the electrochemical signals, although some types of neurons in certain species lack axons and simply transmit signals via their dendrites. [5] Dendrites provide an enlarged surface area to receive signals from the terminal buttons of other axons, and the axon also commonly divides at its far end into many branches (telodendria) each of which ends in a nerve terminal, allowing a chemical signal to pass simultaneously to many target cells. [4] Typically, when an electrochemical signal stimulates a neuron, it occurs at a dendrite and causes changes in the electrical potential across the neuron's plasma membrane. This change in the membrane potential will passively spread across the dendrite but becomes weaker with distance without an action potential. An action potential propagates the electrical activity along the membrane of the neuron's dendrites to the cell body and then afferently down the length of the axon to the axon terminal, where it triggers the release of neurotransmitters into the synaptic cleft. [4] However, synapses involving dendrites can also be axodendritic, involving an axon signaling to a dendrite, or dendrodendritic, involving signaling between dendrites. [6] An autapse is a synapse in which the axon of one neuron transmits signals to its own dendrites.

Action potential A process in which membrane potential cycles through a depolarizing spike, triggered in response to depolarization above some threshold, followed by repolarization. This cycle is driven by the flow of ions through various voltage gated channels with

In physiology, an action potential occurs when the membrane potential of a specific cell location rapidly rises and falls: this depolarisation then causes adjacent locations to similarly depolarise. Action potentials occur in several types of animal cells, called excitable cells, which include neurons, muscle cells, endocrine cells, glomus cells, and in some plant cells.

Dendrodendritic synapses are connections between the dendrites of two different neurons. This is in contrast to the more common axodendritic synapse (chemical synapse) where the axon sends signals and the dendrite receives them. Dendrodendritic synapses are activated in a similar fashion to axodendritic synapses in respects to using a chemical synapse. These chemical synapses receive a depolarizing signal from an incoming action potential which results in an influx of calcium ions that permit release of Neurotransmitters to propagate the signal the post synaptic cell. There is also evidence of bi-directionality in signaling at dendrodendritic synapses. Ordinarily, one of the dendrites will display inhibitory effects while the other will display excitatory effects. The actual signaling mechanism utilizes Na+ and Ca2+ pumps in a similar manner to those found in axodendritic synapses.

An autapse is a chemical or electrical synapse from a neuron onto itself. It can also be described as a synapse formed by the axon of a neuron on its own dendrites, in vivo or in vitro.

There are three main types of neurons; multipolar, bipolar, and unipolar. Multipolar neurons, such as the one shown in the image, are composed of one axon and many dendritic trees. Pyramidal cells are multipolar cortical neurons with pyramid shaped cell bodies and large dendrites called apical dendrites that extend to the surface of the cortex. Bipolar neurons have one axon and one dendritic tree at opposing ends of the cell body. Unipolar neurons have a stalk that extends from the cell body that separates into two branches with one containing the dendrites and the other with the terminal buttons. Unipolar dendrites are used to detect sensory stimuli such as touch or temperature. [6] [7] [8] other parts of a neuron also include an axon

An apical dendrite is a dendrite that emerges from the apex of a pyramidal cell. Apical dendrites are one of two primary categories of dendrites, and they distinguish the pyramidal cells from spiny stellate cells in the cortices. Pyramidal cells are found in the prefrontal cortex, the hippocampus, the entorhinal cortex, the olfactory cortex, and other areas. Dendrite arbors formed by apical dendrites are the means by which synaptic inputs into a cell are integrated. The apical dendrites in these regions contribute significantly to memory, learning, and sensory associations by modulating the excitatory and inhibitory signals received by the pyramidal cells.

History

The term dendrites was first used in 1889 by Wilhelm His to describe the number of smaller "protoplasmic processes" that were attached to a nerve cell. [9] German anatomist Otto Friedrich Karl Deiters is generally credited with the discovery of the axon by distinguishing it from the dendrites.

Some of the first intracellular recordings in a nervous system were made in the late 1930s by Kenneth S. Cole and Howard J. Curtis. Swiss Rüdolf Albert von Kölliker and German Robert Remak were the first to identify and characterize the axon initial segment. Alan Hodgkin and Andrew Huxley also employed the squid giant axon (1939) and by 1952 they had obtained a full quantitative description of the ionic basis of the action potential, leading the formulation of the Hodgkin–Huxley model. Hodgkin and Huxley were awarded jointly the Nobel Prize for this work in 1963. The formulas detailing axonal conductance were extended to vertebrates in the Frankenhaeuser–Huxley equations. Louis-Antoine Ranvier was the first to describe the gaps or nodes found on axons and for this contribution these axonal features are now commonly referred to as the Nodes of Ranvier. Santiago Ramón y Cajal, a Spanish anatomist, proposed that axons were the output components of neurons. [10] He also proposed that neurons were discrete cells that communicated with each other via specialized junctions, or spaces, between cells, now known as a synapse. Ramón y Cajal improved a silver staining process known as Golgi's method, which had been developed by his rival, Camillo Golgi. [11]

Alan Hodgkin physiologist and biophysicist

Sir Alan Lloyd Hodgkin was an English physiologist and biophysicist, who shared the 1963 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Andrew Huxley and John Eccles.

Andrew Huxley English physiologist and biophysicist

Sir Andrew Fielding Huxley was an English physiologist and biophysicist. He was born into the prominent Huxley family. After graduating from Westminster School in Central London, from where he won a scholarship to Trinity College, Cambridge, he joined Alan Lloyd Hodgkin to study nerve impulses. Their eventual discovery of the basis for propagation of nerve impulses earned them the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1963. They made their discovery from the giant axon of the Atlantic squid. Soon after the outbreak of the Second World War, Huxley was recruited by the British Anti-Aircraft Command and later transferred to the Admiralty. After the war he resumed research at The University of Cambridge, where he developed interference microscopy that would be suitable for studying muscle fibres.

The squid giant axon is the very large axon that controls part of the water jet propulsion system in squid. It was first described by L. W. Williams in 1909, but this discovery was forgotten until English zoologist and neurophysiologist J. Z. Young demonstrated the axon's function in the 1930s while working in the Stazione Zoologica in Naples, the Marine Biological Association in Plymouth and the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole. Squids use this system primarily for making brief but very fast movements through the water.

Dendrite development

Complete neuron cell diagram en.svg

During the development of dendrites, several factors can influence differentiation. These include modulation of sensory input, environmental pollutants, body temperature, and drug use. [12] For example, rats raised in dark environments were found to have a reduced number of spines in pyramidal cells located in the primary visual cortex and a marked change in distribution of dendrite branching in layer 4 stellate cells. [13] Experiments done in vitro and in vivo have shown that the presence of afferents and input activity per se can modulate the patterns in which dendrites differentiate. [2]

Little is known about the process by which dendrites orient themselves in vivo and are compelled to create the intricate branching pattern unique to each specific neuronal class. One theory on the mechanism of dendritic arbor development is the Synaptotropic Hypothesis. The synaptotropic hypothesis proposes that input from a presynaptic to a postsynaptic cell (and maturation of excitatory synaptic inputs) eventually can change the course of synapse formation at dendritic and axonal arbors. [14] This synapse formation is required for the development of neuronal structure in the functioning brain. A balance between metabolic costs of dendritic elaboration and the need to cover receptive field presumably determine the size and shape of dendrites. A complex array of extracellular and intracellular cues modulates dendrite development including transcription factors, receptor-ligand interactions, various signaling pathways, local translational machinery, cytoskeletal elements, Golgi outposts and endosomes. These contribute to the organization of the dendrites on individual cell bodies and the placement of these dendrites in the neuronal circuitry. For example, it was shown that β-actin zipcode binding protein 1 (ZBP1) contributes to proper dendritic branching. Other important transcription factors involved in the morphology of dendrites include CUT, Abrupt, Collier, Spineless, ACJ6/drifter, CREST, NEUROD1, CREB, NEUROG2 etc. Secreted proteins and cell surface receptors includes neurotrophins and tyrosine kinase receptors, BMP7, Wnt/dishevelled, EPHB 1-3, Semaphorin/plexin-neuropilin, slit-robo, netrin-frazzled, reelin. Rac, CDC42 and RhoA serve as cytoskeletal regulators and the motor protein includes KIF5, dynein, LIS1. Important secretory and endocytic pathways controlling the dendritic development include DAR3 /SAR1, DAR2/Sec23, DAR6/Rab1 etc. All these molecules interplay with each other in controlling dendritic morphogenesis including the acquisition of type specific dendritic arborization, the regulation of dendrite size and the organization of dendrites emanating from different neurons. [1] [15]

Electrical properties

The structure and branching of a neuron's dendrites, as well as the availability and variation of voltage-gated ion conductance, strongly influences how the neuron integrates the input from other neurons. This integration is both temporal, involving the summation of stimuli that arrive in rapid succession, as well as spatial, entailing the aggregation of excitatory and inhibitory inputs from separate branches. [16]

Dendrites were once thought to merely convey electrical stimulation passively. This passive transmission means that voltage changes measured at the cell body are the result of activation of distal synapses propagating the electric signal towards the cell body without the aid of voltage-gated ion channels. Passive cable theory describes how voltage changes at a particular location on a dendrite transmit this electrical signal through a system of converging dendrite segments of different diameters, lengths, and electrical properties. Based on passive cable theory one can track how changes in a neuron's dendritic morphology impacts the membrane voltage at the cell body, and thus how variation in dendrite architectures affects the overall output characteristics of the neuron. [17] [18]

Electrochemical signals are propagated by action potentials that utilize intermembrane voltage-gated ion channels to transport sodium ions, calcium ions, and potassium ions. Each ion species has its own corresponding protein channel located in the lipid bilayer of the cell membrane. The cell membrane of neurons covers the axons, cell body, dendrites, etc. The protein channels can differ between chemical species in the amount of required activation voltage and the activation duration. [4]

Action potentials in animal cells are generated by either sodium-gated or calcium-gated ion channels in the plasma membrane. These channels are closed when the membrane potential is near to, or at, the resting potential of the cell. The channels will start to open if the membrane potential increases, allowing sodium or calcium ions to flow into the cell. As more ions enter the cell, the membrane potential continues to rise. The process continues until all of the ion channels are open, causing a rapid increase in the membrane potential that then triggers the decrease in the membrane potential. The depolarizing is caused by the closing of the ion channels that prevent sodium ions from entering the neuron, and they are then actively transported out of the cell. Potassium channels are then activated, and there is an outward flow of potassium ions, returning the electrochemical gradient to the resting potential. After an action potential has occurred, there is a transient negative shift, called the afterhyperpolarization or refractory period, due to additional potassium currents. This is the mechanism that prevents an action potential from traveling back the way it just came. [4] [19]

Another important feature of dendrites, endowed by their active voltage gated conductance, is their ability to send action potentials back into the dendritic arbor. Known as back-propagating action potentials, these signals depolarize the dendritic arbor and provide a crucial component toward synapse modulation and long-term potentiation. Furthermore, a train of back-propagating action potentials artificially generated at the soma can induce a calcium action potential (a dendritic spike) at the dendritic initiation zone in certain types of neurons.[ citation needed ]

Plasticity

Dendrites themselves appear to be capable of plastic changes during the adult life of animals, including invertebrates. Neuronal dendrites have various compartments known as functional units that are able to compute incoming stimuli. These functional units are involved in processing input and are composed of the subdomains of dendrites such as spines, branches, or groupings of branches. Therefore, plasticity that leads to changes in the dendrite structure will affect communication and processing in the cell. During development, dendrite morphology is shaped by intrinsic programs within the cell's genome and extrinsic factors such as signals from other cells. But in adult life, extrinsic signals become more influential and cause more significant changes in dendrite structure compared to intrinsic signals during development. In females, the dendritic structure can change as a result of physiological conditions induced by hormones during periods such as pregnancy, lactation, and following the estrous cycle. This is particularly visible in pyramidal cells of the CA1 region of the hippocampus, where the density of dendrites can vary up to 30%. [2]

Notes

  1. 1 2 3 Urbanska, M.; Blazejczyk, M.; Jaworski, J. (2008). "Molecular basis of dendritic arborization". Acta neurobiologiae experimentalis. 68 (2): 264–288. PMID   18511961.
  2. 1 2 3 Tavosanis, G. (2012). "Dendritic structural plasticity". Developmental Neurobiology. 72 (1): 73–86. doi:10.1002/dneu.20951. PMID   21761575.
  3. Koch, C.; Zador, A. (February 1993). "The Function of Dendritic Spines: Devices Subserving Biochemical Rather Than Electrical Compartmentalization". The Journal of Neuroscience. 13 (2): 413–422. PMID   8426220.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 Alberts, Bruce (2009). Essential Cell Biology (3rd ed.). New York: Garland Science. ISBN   978-0-8153-4129-1.
  5. Yau, K. W. (1976). "Receptive fields, geometry and conduction block of sensory neurones in the central nervous system of the leech". The Journal of Physiology. 263 (3): 513–38. doi:10.1113/jphysiol.1976.sp011643. PMC   1307715 . PMID   1018277.
  6. 1 2 Carlson, Neil R. (2013). Physiology of Behavior (11th ed.). Boston: Pearson. ISBN   978-0-205-23939-9.
  7. Pinel, John P.J. (2011). Biopsychology (8th ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon. ISBN   978-0-205-83256-9.
  8. Jan, Y. N.; Jan, L. Y. (2010). "Branching out: Mechanisms of dendritic arborization". Nature Reviews Neuroscience. 11 (5): 316–328. doi:10.1038/nrn2836. PMC   3079328 . PMID   20404840.
  9. Finger, Stanley (1994). Origins of neuroscience : a history of explorations into brain function. Oxford University Press. p. 44. ISBN   9780195146943. OCLC   27151391. The nerve cell with its uninterrupted processes was described by Otto Friedrich Karl Deiters (1834-1863) in a work that was completed by Max Schultze (1825-1874) in 1865, two years after Deiters died of typhoid fever. This work portrayed the cell body with a single chief "axis cylinder" and a number of smaller "protoplasmic processes" (see figure 3.19). The latter would become known as "dendrites", a term coined by Wilhelm His (1831-1904) in 1889.
  10. Debanne, D; Campanac, E; Bialowas, A; Carlier, E; Alcaraz, G (Apr 2011). "Axon physiology". Physiological Reviews. 91 (2): 555–602. doi:10.1152/physrev.00048.2009. PMID   21527732.
  11. López-Muñoz, F (October 2006). "Neuron theory, the cornerstone of neuroscience, on the centenary of the Nobel Prize award to Santiago Ramón y Cajal". Brain Research Bulletin. 70 (4–6): 391–405. doi:10.1016/j.brainresbull.2006.07.010. PMID   17027775.
  12. McEwen, Bruce S. (2010). "Stress, sex, and neural adaptation to a changing environment: mechanisms of neuronal remodeling". Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. 1204: 38–59. Bibcode:2010NYASA1204...38M. doi:10.1111/j.1749-6632.2010.05568.x. PMC   2946089 . PMID   20840167.
  13. Borges, S.; Berry, M. (15 July 1978). "The effects of dark rearing on the development of the visual cortex of the rat". The Journal of Comparative Neurology. 180 (2): 277–300. doi:10.1002/cne.901800207. PMID   659662.
  14. Cline, H; Haas, K (Mar 15, 2008). "The regulation of dendritic arbor development and plasticity by glutamatergic synaptic input: a review of the synaptotrophic hypothesis". The Journal of Physiology. 586 (6): 1509–17. doi:10.1113/jphysiol.2007.150029. PMC   2375708 . PMID   18202093.
  15. Perycz, M.; Urbanska, A. S.; Krawczyk, P. S.; Parobczak, K.; Jaworski, J. (2011). "Zipcode Binding Protein 1 Regulates the Development of Dendritic Arbors in Hippocampal Neurons" (PDF). Journal of Neuroscience. 31 (14): 5271–5285. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2387-10.2011. PMID   21471362. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2017-09-22.
  16. Kandel, Eric R. (2003). Principles of neural science (4th ed.). Cambridge: McGrawHill. ISBN   0-8385-7701-6.
  17. Koch, Christof (1999). Biophysics of computation : information processing in single neurons. New York [u.a.]: Oxford Univ. Press. ISBN   0-19-510491-9.
  18. Häusser, Michael (2008). Dendrites (2nd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN   0-19-856656-5.
  19. Barnett, MW; Larkman, PM (Jun 2007). "The action potential". Practical Neurology. 7 (3): 192–7. PMID   17515599.

Related Research Articles

Axon The long process of a neuron that conducts nerve impulses, usually away from the cell body to the terminals and varicosities, which are sites of storage and release of neurotransmitter.

An axon, or nerve fiber, is a long, slender projection of a nerve cell, or neuron, in vertebrates, that typically conducts electrical impulses known as action potentials away from the nerve cell body. The function of the axon is to transmit information to different neurons, muscles, and glands. In certain sensory neurons, such as those for touch and warmth, the axons are called afferent nerve fibers and the electrical impulse travels along these from the periphery to the cell body, and from the cell body to the spinal cord along another branch of the same axon. Axon dysfunction has caused many inherited and acquired neurological disorders which can affect both the peripheral and central neurons. Nerve fibers are classed into three types – group A nerve fibers, group B nerve fibers, and group C nerve fibers. Groups A and B are myelinated, and group C are unmyelinated. These groups include both sensory fibers and motor fibers. Another classification groups only the sensory fibers as Type I, Type II, Type III, and Type IV.

Chemical synapse

Chemical synapses are biological junctions through which neurons' signals can be sent to each other and to non-neuronal cells such as those in muscles or glands. Chemical synapses allow neurons to form circuits within the central nervous system. They are crucial to the biological computations that underlie perception and thought. They allow the nervous system to connect to and control other systems of the body.

Nervous tissue main component of the nervous system

Nervous tissue, also called neural tissue or nerve tissue, is the main tissue component of the nervous system. The nervous system regulates and controls bodily functions and activity and consists of two parts: the central nervous system (CNS) comprising the brain and spinal cord, and the peripheral nervous system (PNS) comprising the branching peripheral nerves. It is composed of neurons, or nerve cells, which receive and transmit impulses, and neuroglia, also known as glial cells or glia, which assist the propagation of the nerve impulse as well as provide nutrients to the neurons.

Dendritic spine A small, membranous protrusion from a dendrite that forms a postsynaptic compartment - typically receiving input from a single presynapse.  They function as partially isolated biochemical and an electrical compartments. Spine morphology is variable i

A dendritic spine is a small membranous protrusion from a neuron's dendrite that typically receives input from a single axon at the synapse. Dendritic spines serve as a storage site for synaptic strength and help transmit electrical signals to the neuron's cell body. Most spines have a bulbous head, and a thin neck that connects the head of the spine to the shaft of the dendrite. The dendrites of a single neuron can contain hundreds to thousands of spines. In addition to spines providing an anatomical substrate for memory storage and synaptic transmission, they may also serve to increase the number of possible contacts between neurons.

An inhibitory postsynaptic potential (IPSP) is a kind of synaptic potential that makes a postsynaptic neuron less likely to generate an action potential. IPSP were first investigated in motorneurons by David P. C. Lloyd, Jhon Eccles and Rodolfo Llinás in 1950s and 1960s. The opposite of an inhibitory postsynaptic potential is an excitatory postsynaptic potential (EPSP), which is a synaptic potential that makes a postsynaptic neuron more likely to generate an action potential. IPSPs can take place at all chemical synapses, which use the secretion of neurotransmitters to create cell to cell signalling. Inhibitory presynaptic neurons release neurotransmitters that then bind to the postsynaptic receptors; this induces a change in the permeability of the postsynaptic neuronal membrane to particular ions. An electric current that changes the postsynaptic membrane potential to create a more negative postsynaptic potential is generated, i.e. the postsynaptic membrane potential becomes more negative than the resting membrane potential, and this is called hyperpolarisation. To generate an action potential, the postsynaptic membrane must depolarize—the membrane potential must reach a voltage threshold more positive than the resting membrane potential. Therefore, hyperpolarisation of the postsynaptic membrane makes it less likely for depolarisation to sufficiently occur to generate an action potential in the postsynaptic neurone.

Excitatory synapse A synapse in which an action potential in the presynaptic cell increases the probability of an action potential occurring in the postsynaptic cell.

An excitatory synapse is a synapse in which an action potential in a presynaptic neuron increases the probability of an action potential occurring in a postsynaptic cell. Neurons form networks through which nerve impulses travel, each neuron often making numerous connections with other cells. These electrical signals may be excitatory or inhibitory, and, if the total of excitatory influences exceeds that of the inhibitory influences, the neuron will generate a new action potential at its axon hillock, thus transmitting the information to yet another cell.

Stimulus (physiology) in physiology, a detectable change in the internal or external environment

In physiology, a stimulus is a detectable change in the physical or chemical structure of an organism's internal or external environment. The ability of an organism or organ to respond to external stimuli is called sensitivity. When a stimulus is applied to a sensory receptor, it normally elicits or influences a reflex via stimulus transduction. These sensory receptors can receive information from outside the body, as in touch receptors found in the skin or light receptors in the eye, as well as from inside the body, as in chemoreceptors and mechanoreceptors. An internal stimulus is often the first component of a homeostatic control system. External stimuli are capable of producing systemic responses throughout the body, as in the fight-or-flight response. In order for a stimulus to be detected with high probability, its level must exceed the absolute threshold; if a signal does reach threshold, the information is transmitted to the central nervous system (CNS), where it is integrated and a decision on how to react is made. Although stimuli commonly cause the body to respond, it is the CNS that finally determines whether a signal causes a reaction or not.

Pyramidal cell projection neurons in the cerebral cortex and hippocampus

Pyramidal cells, or pyramidal neurons, are a type of multipolar neuron found in areas of the brain including the cerebral cortex, the hippocampus, and the amygdala. Pyramidal neurons are the primary excitation units of the mammalian prefrontal cortex and the corticospinal tract. Pyramidal neurons are also one of two cell types where the characteristic sign, Negri bodies, are found in post-mortem rabies infection. Pyramidal neurons were first discovered and studied by Santiago Ramón y Cajal. Since then, studies on pyramidal neurons have focused on topics ranging from neuroplasticity to cognition.

Axon hillock Portion of the neuronal cell soma from which the axon originates.

The axon hillock is a specialized part of the cell body of a neuron that connects to the axon. It can be identified using light microscopy from its appearance and location in a neuron and from its sparse distribution of Nissl substance.

Synaptogenesis is the formation of synapses between neurons in the nervous system. Although it occurs throughout a healthy person's lifespan, an explosion of synapse formation occurs during early brain development, known as exuberant synaptogenesis. Synaptogenesis is particularly important during an individual's critical period, during which there is a certain degree of synaptic pruning due to competition for neural growth factors by neurons and synapses. Processes that are not used, or inhibited during their critical period will fail to develop normally later on in life.

Basket cell

Basket cells are inhibitory GABAergic interneurons of the brain, found throughout different regions of the cortex and cerebellum.

Synapse junction between a nerve fiber of one neuron and another neuron, muscle fiber or glial cell

In the nervous system, a synapse is a structure that permits a neuron to pass an electrical or chemical signal to another neuron or to the target effector cell.

The synaptotropic hypothesis, also called the synaptotrophic hypothesis, is a neurobiological hypothesis of neuronal growth and synapse formation. The hypothesis was first formulated by J.E. Vaughn in 1988, and remains a focus of current research efforts. The synaptotropic hypothesis proposes that input from a presynaptic to a postsynaptic cell eventually can change the course of synapse formation at dendritic and axonal arbors. This synapse formation is required for the development of neuronal structure in the functioning brain.

Neural backpropagation is the phenomenon in which after the action potential of a neuron creates a voltage spike down the axon another impulse is generated from the soma and propagates toward to the apical portions of the dendritic arbor or dendrites, from which much of the original input current originated. In addition to active backpropagation of the action potential, there is also passive electrotonic spread. While there is ample evidence to prove the existence of backpropagating action potentials, the function of such action potentials and the extent to which they invade the most distal dendrites remains highly controversial.

Dendritic spike

In neurophysiology, a dendritic spike refers to an action potential generated in the dendrite of a neuron. Dendrites are branched extensions of a neuron. They receive electrical signals emitted from projecting neurons and transfer these signals to the cell body, or soma. Dendritic signaling has traditionally been viewed as a passive mode of electrical signaling. Unlike its axon counterpart which can generate signals through action potentials, dendrites were believed to only have the ability to propagate electrical signals by physical means: changes in conductance, length, cross sectional area, etc. However, the existence of dendritic spikes was proposed and demonstrated by W. Alden Spencer, Eric Kandel, Rodolfo Llinás and coworkers in the 1960s and a large body of evidence now makes it clear that dendrites are active neuronal structures. Dendrites contain voltage-gated ion channels giving them the ability to generate action potentials. Dendritic spikes have been recorded in numerous types of neurons in the brain and are thought to have great implications in neuronal communication, memory, and learning. They are one of the major factors in long-term potentiation.

Summation (neurophysiology)

Summation, which includes both spatial and temporal summation, is the process that determines whether or not an action potential will be generated by the combined effects of excitatory and inhibitory signals, both from multiple simultaneous inputs, and from repeated inputs. Depending on the sum total of many individual inputs, summation may or may not reach the threshold voltage to trigger an action potential.

Cellular neuroscience is a branch of neuroscience concerned with the study of neurons at a cellular level. This includes morphology and physiological properties of single neurons. Several techniques such as intracellular recording, patch-clamp, and voltage-clamp technique, pharmacology, confocal imaging, molecular biology, two photon laser scanning microscopy and Ca2+ imaging have been used to study activity at the cellular level. Cellular neuroscience examines the various types of neurons, the functions of different neurons, the influence of neurons upon each other, and how neurons work together.

Nonsynaptic plasticity

Nonsynaptic plasticity is a form of neuroplasticity that involves modification of ion channel function in the axon, dendrites, and cell body that results in specific changes in the integration of excitatory postsynaptic potentials (EPSPs) and inhibitory postsynaptic potentials (IPSPs). Nonsynaptic plasticity is a modification of the intrinsic excitability of the neuron. It interacts with synaptic plasticity, but it is considered a separate entity from synaptic plasticity. Intrinsic modification of the electrical properties of neurons plays a role in many aspects of plasticity from homeostatic plasticity to learning and memory itself. Nonsynaptic plasticity affects synaptic integration, subthreshold propagation, spike generation, and other fundamental mechanisms of neurons at the cellular level. These individual neuronal alterations can result in changes in higher brain function, especially learning and memory. However, as an emerging field in neuroscience, much of the knowledge about nonsynaptic plasticity is uncertain and still requires further investigation to better define its role in brain function and behavior.

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