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Differences nerve cells

  1. May 12, 2005 #1
    Yesterday, i had a 20 minute test on basic nerve cells
    I could only wruite the main differnce bw nerve cells and other cells in animals is their appearance. One has membrane, round rubgy-shaep while the other has a star-shape.
    So are there any other differnces i should have mentioned in that test ? I think I get a MARU for such an answer though.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 12, 2005 #2


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    While it is true that, in general, nerves cells are a different shape than other cell types, this may not be the best way to differentiate them from non-neuronal cells. For one, even within the neurons there are many shapes from small bipolar granule cells of the cerebellum, to pryramidal cells of the cortex or hippocampus to large tree-like purkinje neurons (again in the cerebellum). The star shaped cells you referred to could potentially be another cell type within the brain called astrocytes (astro=star), one of the glial or non-neuronal cells of the brain, along with oligodendrocytes and microglia. Perhaps the best way to differentiate neurons from many other cells is the fact that they maintain a potential across their cell membrane. This potential is achieved by the selective uptake and/or exclusion of ions like sodium, potassium, calcium and chloride. Neurons use this potential to drive processes related to nerve signal conduction like neurotransmitter release, uptake etc. The best way to differentiate one cell type from another in to think about what that cell is meant to do, ie, metabolism, synthesis, communication, etc and then how is goes about doing it.
  4. May 13, 2005 #3


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    Well, no other cells have axons and dendrites. And neurotransmission occurs between neurons.
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