Module 10: Figure neuronal morphology

Neuronal morphology illustrating the main functional regions of a typical neuron.

The spines and dendrites represent the receptive fields where information is received from other neurons. The soma, containing the nucleus, integrates all the information, and if the net result is membrane depolarization, then a special region known as the axon hillock (the region where the axon connects to the soma) generates an action potential responsible for rapid information transfer down the axon. When this action potential arrives at the synaptic endings, the membrane depolarization provides the signal to trigger release of the stored transmitters that carry information on to the next neuron in the circuit. Each region of the neuron has a specific function in the linear transfer of information from the dendritic region to the synaptic ending. The endoplasmic reticulum shown in red extends throughout the neuron and may be considered as a neuron-within-a-neuron (Module 10: Figure neuronal structure).