What is a neuron?

The neuron is the brain's basic unit for processing information. The human brain contains an incredible number of neurons -- about 100 billion, give or take 10 billion. The neuron is a unique cell in activity and appearance. It generates both electrical and chemical signals, making it able to communicate quickly with distant neurons. Instead of the compact shape typical of other cells in the body, the neuron is like an oak tree with giant branches stretched out. Each neuron has a body containing a nucleus, one long fiber called an axon, and many shorter branching fibers called dendrites.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
You have 100 billion neurons in your brain, which, if stretched out in length, would reach 30,000 miles. Each of these nerve cells transmits information to another neuron so that your body can perform. Neurons hold the information, but unless it's communicated to another neuron, it's virtually useless.

That's where neurons' edges come into play. They're called dendrites-and they're like baseball catchers. They receive the pitch sent to them from other neurons. Even more importantly, they act like catchers by communicating to all the other players on the field. Specifically, the dendrite can influence how the signal is sent, received, and transmitted to other neurons.
YOU: The Owner's Manual, Updated and Expanded Edition: An Insider's Guide to the Body that Will Make You Healthier and Younger

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YOU: The Owner's Manual, Updated and Expanded Edition: An Insider's Guide to the Body that Will Make You Healthier and Younger

Between your full-length mirror and high-school biology class, you probably think you know a lot about the human body. While it's true that we live in an age when we're as obsessed with our bodies as...

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.