Neuroscience: A Journey Through the Brain
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The Structure of a Neuron: Dendrites
The word "dendrite" is Greek for "tree", and reflects the appearance of the dendrites. Dendrites resemble the branches of a tree as they extend from the soma. The dendrites for a single neuron are collectively called the dendritic tree, and each branch is called a dendritic branch. Dendrites have a wide variety of shapes and sizes, and are used to help classify groups of neurons.
Dendrites function as the 'antennae' for the neuron, and are thus covered with thousands of synapses. The membrane of the dendritic tree has specialized proteins called receptors in it to detect neurotransmitters released by other neurons into the synapse. Some dendrites are also covered with small bumps called dendritic spines, which are believed to isolate various chemical reactions that are triggered by some types of synaptic activation.
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Last Updated: April 09, 2002 08:55 PM