Thursday, November 14, 2013

Dendrites and Dendritic Spines, 1 of 2

There’s new studies about the role of dendrites. Think of your hand as a neuron—those special cells that have an ability to transmit information. Your palm can represent the cell body; your thumb as the axon, the largest project from a neuron; and your fingers can represent dendrites, projections from the cell. Some estimates say you can alter the shape of a dendrite in thirty seconds and can grow a new one in 30 minutes. Some types of dendrites such as the Purkinje cells in the cerebral cortex, contain additional small hair-like projections often known as dendritic spines. There are approximately 200,000 dendritic spines per cell. Increased neural activity at spines increases their size and conduction which is thought to play a role in learning and memory formation. Now, new research is expanding knowledge of the role of dendrites and their dendritic spines.

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