What are neurons?
The job of a neuron (nerve cell) is to transmit electrical impulses (messages) around the body. The neurons that lie outside of the spinal cord are divided into motor and sensory neurons.
- Transmit messages from our senses to our central nervous system.
- Transmit messages from our central nervous system to our muscles and glands instructing muscles to contract and glands to secrete hormones.
A single neuron is made up of the following components:
- Nucleus – the control centre of the neuron, gives the neuron instructions and contains the cells genetic code (DNA)
- Cell body – this is where the nucleus is located
- Dendrites – these pick up electrical impulses and transmits them to the cell body
- Axon – this is the shaft of the neuron, it transmits messages away from the cell body
- Myelin sheath – this insulates the neuron which speeds of the transmission of electrical impulses (transport of messages)