We all know that neurons are the building blocks of the brain. They are the main cells that do a lot of the brain’s work, besides the glial cells. (More on glial cells with a later post, though).
Now, what is it that makes neurons so special? Neurons are really good quickly and precisely. But what is it that gives them this ability?
It’s their asymmetry and their excitability!
Neurons are asymmetrical because they have dendrites at one end, and axons on the other. The dendrites receive signals, and the axons transmit that signal to the next neuron’s dendrites. This allows for unidirectional cell signaling between neurons.
Neurons are excitable because they can be stimulated. What’s interesting is that neurons can be excited both electrically and chemically. The ion channels redistribute charge and serve as the bases for the electrical signaling while receptors serve as the bases for chemical signaling.
And those two simple, yet not-so-simple characteristics makes neurons unique and great at communication!