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-the basic unit or building block for the entire nervous system is a slimy, extraordinarily thin, long,
and magnificently mysterious piece of protoplasm.
The central nervous system consists of the brain and spinal cord while the peripheral
nervous system consists of sensory and motor nervous cells that run throughout the rest of the
body. Neurons are responsible for sending, receiving, and interpreting information from all parts
of the body.
Dendrites (Basic Component)- which receive information in a bioelectric form from other
neurons. typically carry signals toward the cell body. Dendrites are usually more numerous,
shorter and more branched than axons. They have many synapses in order to receive signal
messages from nearby neurons.
Axons and dendrites are bundled together into what are called nerves. These nerves send
signals between the brain, spinal cord, and other body organs via nerve impulses. Nerve impulses
are received at the neuronal dendrites and are carried along the axon to the terminal branches. At
electrical synapses, ions and other molecules pass through gap junctions allowing for the passive
transmission of electrical signals from one cell to the other. At chemical synapses, chemical signals
called neurotransmitters are released which cross the gap junction to stimulate the next neuron.
The information received at the dendrites is fed into a large cell body. This electrical
information produces an action potential, which amounts to one unit of electrical information and
which is subsequently propagated down a long cylindrical structure called the axon
Axons- typically carry signals away from the cell body. They are long nerve processes that may
branch out to convey signals to various areas. Some axons are wrapped in an insulating coat
of glial cells called oligodendrocytes and Schwann cells. These cells form the myelin
sheath which indirectly assists in the conduction of impulses as myelinated nerves can conduct
impulses quicker than unmyelinated ones. Gaps between the myelin sheath are called Nodes of
Ranvier. Axons end at junctions known as synapses.
When a nerve impulse occurs, there is a progressive change in electrical properties of the
neuronal membrane, which results in the conduction of the nerve impulse down the axon. The
energy involved in producing a nerve impulse is provided by the neuron itself. The input merely
serves to trigger the neuron, which means that once fired the amplitude of the electrical impulse is
constant as is the speed of conduction down most of the length of the neuron.
Another feature of neurons is that, after one has fired, there is a period of time within which it
cannot fire again. This is called the absolute refractory period. Thus, two stimuli occurring
extremely close together will probably result in a neuron firing only once.

The mechanism of smell is fascinating and mysterious. In brief, odorous particles from the object
being smelled must pass into the nose and the upper and posterior portions of the nasal cavity.
There they come into contact with what is called the olfactory epithelium, which is a thin layer
of tissue with many olfactory receptors embedded within.

largely responsible for initiating the systematic exploration of synaptic mechanisms. There are
three basic kinds of synapses: one kind is excitatory, and the other two are inhibitory in nature.
The excitatory synapse consists of an axon lying in direct proximity to a dendrite. The actual
junction is made by the synaptic knob. Between the knob and dendrite of the receiving neuron is
a space called the synaptic cleft. Neuron-to-neuron connections are made onto the dendrites and
cell bodies of other neurons. These connections, known as synapses, are the sites at which
information is carried from the first neuron, the presynaptic neuron, to the target neuron
(the postsynaptic neuron).