Neurons are responsible for carrying information throughout the human body. Using electrical and chemical signals, they help coordinate all of the necessary functions of life. In this article, we explain what neurons are and how they work.
In short, our nervous systems detect what is going on around us and inside of us; they decide how we should act, alter the state of internal organs (heart rate changes, for instance), and allows us to think about and remember what is going on. To do this, it relies on a sophisticated network — neurons.
Neurons can only be seen using a microscope and can be split into three parts:
Soma (cell body) — this portion of the neuron receives information. It contains the cell’s nucleus.
Dendrites — these thin filaments carry information from other neurons to the soma. They are the “input” part of the cell.
Axon — this long projection carries information from the soma and sends it off to other cells. This is the “output” part of the cell. It normally ends with a number of synapses connecting to the dendrites of other neurons.
Both dendrites and axons are sometimes referred to as nerve fibers.