Snake uses tentacles to 'see' in the dark

(PhysOrg.com) -- A new study of a snake with tentacles on its snout has found it has a unique system for sensing prey: its tentacles allow it to "see" in murky water.

A 'bridge' of carbon between nerve tissues

A new material made of carbon nanotubes supports the growth of nerve fibers, bridging segregated neural explants and providing a functional re-connection. The study, which was coordinated by SISSA in Trieste, also observed ...

Scientists solve mystery of the eye

(PhysOrg.com) -- Scientists have a good overall understanding of human vision: when light enters our eyes, it is focused by the lens and strikes the retina in the back of the eye. The light causes some of the millions of ...

New microfluidic chip replicates muscle-nerve connection

MIT engineers have developed a microfluidic device that replicates the neuromuscular junction—the vital connection where nerve meets muscle. The device, about the size of a U.S. quarter, contains a single muscle strip and ...

A whole new meaning for thinking on your feet

Smithsonian researchers report that the brains of tiny spiders are so large that they fill their body cavities and overflow into their legs. As part of ongoing research to understand how miniaturization affects brain size ...

Naked mole-rats may hold clues to pain relief

Naked mole-rats evolved to thrive in an acidic environment that other mammals, including humans, would find intolerable. Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago report new findings as to how these rodents have ...

Stem cells + nanofibers = Promising nerve research

Every week in his clinic at the University of Michigan, neurologist Joseph Corey, M.D., Ph.D., treats patients whose nerves are dying or shrinking due to disease or injury.

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Axon

An axon or nerve fiber is a long, slender projection of a nerve cell, or neuron, that conducts electrical impulses away from the neuron's cell body or soma.

An axon is one of two types of protoplasmic protrusions that extrude from the cell body of a neuron, the other type being dendrites. Axons are distinguished from dendrites by several features, including shape (dendrites often taper while axons usually maintain a constant radius), length (dendrites are restricted to a small region around the cell body while axons can be much longer), and function (dendrites usually receive signals while axons usually transmit them). All of these rules have exceptions, however.

Some types of neurons have no axon—these are called amacrine cells, and transmit signals from their dendrites. No neuron ever has more than one axon; however in invertebrates such as insects the axon sometimes consists of several regions that function more or less independently of each other. Most axons branch, in some cases very profusely.

Axons make contact with other cells—usually other neurons but sometimes muscle or gland cells—at junctions called synapses. At a synapse, the membrane of the axon closely adjoins the membrane of the target cell, and special molecular structures serve to transmit electrical or electrochemical signals across the gap. Some synaptic junctions appear partway along an axon as it extends—these are called en passant ("in passing") synapses. Other synapses appear as terminals at the ends of axonal branches. A single axon, with all its branches taken together, can innervate multiple parts of the brain and generate thousands of synaptic terminals.

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