In today’s blog, you’ll learn what is a neuron and the key features and functions of a nerve cell to help you prepare for your Level 2 and 3 Anatomy and Physiology Exam
- Why FITPROs find the nervous system hard to revise
- 7-minute video tutorial explaining What is a Neuron?
- What is a Neuron?
- Mock questions to test your knowledge
- How to learn and remember complex anatomy
First of all, watch the 7-minute video tutorial and then test your knowledge using the three mock questions at the bottom of this blog.
Watch: What is a Neuron?
Why FITPROs find The Nervous System hard to revise
The Nervous System is notoriously claimed to be one of the hardest modules within the Level 2 and 3 Anatomy and Physiology syllabus, so you are not alone if you find this area difficult to understand.
It is easy to take movement and bodily actions for granted, as we unconsciously create movement all day every day. It can be difficult to wrap your head around the mechanisms of unconscious control
Although you might not be quoting the individual features of a neuron and explaining the nerve synapse to a client, the knowledge of this, allows you to understand how signals are passed for every action and reaction in our bodies.
This will improve your ability to plan sessions for your client and encourage your client to move efficiently.
What is a Neuron?
A Neuron is also known as a nerve cell. These cells send and receive signals from the brain
Neurons have a unique structure, that has some similar cell features, but also those specific to only a nerve cell. Let’s explore the structure of a neuron…
Key features of a neuron structure
This image shows the key features of a neuron structure, you can see the:
- Nucleus – the “brain” of the cell where information entering the cell can be processed.
- Cell Body – the main bulk of the cell. The cell body carries genetic information, maintains the neuron’s structure, and provides energy to drive activities.
- Axon – Neurons generally have one main axon. The axon is a long, tail-like structure that carries information along it’s length. This is key for the transport of information
- Myelin Sheath – Many axons are insulated with a fatty substance called myelin. Myelin helps axons to conduct an electrical signal.
- Dendrites – fibrous roots that branch out from the cell body. Like antennae, dendrites receive and process signals from the axons of other neurons. Neurons can have more than one set of dendrites, known as dendritic trees.
- Axon Terminal – the end of the axon that branches off and forms one end of the synapse
- The synapse – It is the place where two or more nerves meet, and also where nerves end and join nerves to muscles, glands, and organs. Find out more about a nerve synapse HERE
How a Neuron functions?
The purpose of a nerve is to send a signal from one part of the body to the other. This could be:
- nerve to nerve,
- from receptor to the brain (afferent neuron)
- or through parts of the spinal cord and brain (inter-neuron)
- or from the brain to muscle, organ, or gland (efferent neuron)
Many nerves join up to send each message or transmission.
It is kinda like a train journey where you need to travel from Edinburgh to Newquay in Cornwall. You don’t just talk one train, have to get off at a platform and change to a different train multiple times to ensure you get to your destination.
In this analogy, the nerve is the train journey whereby an electrical signal is being sent down the nerve cell.
The nerve synapse is the platform, where you change between trains (nerves).
A Nerve (neuron) sends signals using action potentials. An action potential is a shift in the neuron’s electric potential caused by the flow of ions in and out of the neural membrane.
Action potentials can trigger both chemical and electrical synapses.
What is an Action Potential throughout the Axon?
An Action Potential is a complex and in-depth journey of “depolarising ions”. There are lots of complex examples and descriptions available, so let’s keep it simple here in preparation for your level 3 anatomy and physiology exam.
The Ions are essentially Positively and Negatively charged, which is like a light switch that can only turn on or off. They appear in sections along the length of the axon, when one changes from being positive to being negative, it makes the one next to it change.
And then like a wave (or pulse) the signal is sent all the way down the axon until it reaches the Axon Terminal and signals for the neurotransmitters to be released.
Find out more about the Action Potential HERE
Test your knowledge with today’s Nervous system mock questions:
[NOTE: The answers are below the 3rd questions]
Q1: Which part of a neuron passes information via a chemical signal?
A. The length of the Axon
C. The synapse
D. Sarcoplasmic Reticulum
Q2: The process of Action Potential occurs in which part of the nervous system?
A. The length of the Axon
C. The Synapse
D. Sarcoplasmic Reticulum
Q3: What is the role of a neuron?
A. Only send signals from the brain
B. Send and receive signals to the brain
C. Only receive signals from the brain
D. Send and receive signals between organs
Answers to the mock questions are :
Question 1= C, Question 2 = A, Question 3 = B
If you want more mock questions like this, then you can download more Free Mock Questions: DOWNLOAD NOW
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Hayley “What is a Neuron?” Bergman
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