How do neurons communicate electrical and chemical components of communication from one to another?

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bohemianteacher4u | College Teacher | (Level 3) Assistant Educator

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To understand how the neurosystem communicates, one needs to have an understanding of the components involved in the process.

The human body has a central nervous system that handles assisting neurons in communication. Two primary parts are necessary for this process to occur, neurons and glia.

Neurons have the role of processing information. They communicate through a structure called synapses. Neurons send messages to other neurons. As Robert Stufflebeam explains it, neurons receive input from other neurons, process it, then pass the information as output to other neurons.

The glia aid the communication process conducted by the neurons. Glia are like connectors and provide the neuron with structure. A human's brain has an extremely large quantity of neurons with each type assigned a special task.

There are three major types of neurons that include: sensory neurons, motor neurons and inter-neurons. Parts of the neurons include:

  • the cell body or soma
  • process structure that extend outward from the neuron (like an arm reaching out) -dendrites (receptors)
  • an axon
  • neurotransmitters (chemicals)
  • axon terminals

When a message is sent from the soma, it travels along the axon through the process structure. The dendrites receive the signal. The process of communication is called conduction within the axon. The process of communication between different neurons is called neurotransmission. Once the message has traveled to the dendrites, the message is output through an electrical charge to the next neuron.

Incoming signals [are] received through its dendrites. The outgoing signal to other neurons flows along its axon. A neuron [has] thousands of dendrites, but ... only one axon. The fourth distinct part [is] the axon terminals. These are the structures that contain neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are the chemical medium through which signals flow from one neuron to the next at chemical synapses. (Robert Stufflebeam, "Neurons, Synapses, Action Potentials, and Neurotransmission")