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By the end of this section, you will be able to:
  • Identify the basic parts of a neuron
  • Describe how neurons communicate with each other
  • Explain how drugs act as agonists or antagonists for a given neurotransmitter system

Psychologists striving to understand the human mind may study the nervous system. Learning how the cells and organs (like the brain) function, help us understand the biological basis behind human psychology. The nervous system is composed of two basic cell types: glial cells (also known as glia) and neurons. Glial cells, which outnumber neurons ten to one, are traditionally thought to play a supportive role to neurons, both physically and metabolically. Glial cells provide scaffolding on which the nervous system is built, help neurons line up closely with each other to allow neuronal communication, provide insulation to neurons, transport nutrients and waste products, and mediate immune responses. Neurons , on the other hand, serve as interconnected information processors that are essential for all of the tasks of the nervous system. This section briefly describes the structure and function of neurons.

Neuron structure

Neurons are the central building blocks of the nervous system, 100 billion strong at birth. Like all cells, neurons consist of several different parts, each serving a specialized function ( [link] ). A neuron’s outer surface is made up of a semipermeable membrane    . This membrane allows smaller molecules and molecules without an electrical charge to pass through it, while stopping larger or highly charged molecules.

An illustration shows a neuron with labeled parts for the cell membrane, dendrite, cell body, axon, and terminal buttons. A myelin sheath covers part of the neuron.
This illustration shows a prototypical neuron, which is being myelinated.

The nucleus of the neuron is located in the soma    , or cell body. The soma has branching extensions known as dendrites . The neuron is a small information processor, and dendrites serve as input sites where signals are received from other neurons. These signals are transmitted electrically across the soma and down a major extension from the soma known as the axon    , which ends at multiple terminal buttons . The terminal buttons contain synaptic vesicles that house neurotransmitters , the chemical messengers of the nervous system.

Axons range in length from a fraction of an inch to several feet. In some axons, glial cells form a fatty substance known as the myelin sheath    , which coats the axon and acts as an insulator, increasing the speed at which the signal travels. The myelin sheath is crucial for the normal operation of the neurons within the nervous system: the loss of the insulation it provides can be detrimental to normal function. To understand how this works, let’s consider an example. Multiple sclerosis (MS), an autoimmune disorder, involves a large-scale loss of the myelin sheath on axons throughout the nervous system. The resulting interference in the electrical signal prevents the quick transmittal of information by neurons and can lead to a number of symptoms, such as dizziness, fatigue, loss of motor control, and sexual dysfunction. While some treatments may help to modify the course of the disease and manage certain symptoms, there is currently no known cure for multiple sclerosis.

Questions & Answers

why they named it psychology
zayn Reply
what is chunking
Ritika Reply
Chunking is a process by which individual pieces of an information set are broken down and then grouped together in a meaningful whole.
Azquan
what dose it means, operant and classic conditioning in short words?
Mikiyas Reply
scientific method, critical thinking.
jeddy Reply
the dealings with the thought process and human behavior.
jeddy
for acquiring knowledge by experimentation.
jeddy
study scientific study of mind and behavior.
jeddy
scientific study of the human mind and behavior.
jeddy
hey jeddy I have question s for you
Yussuf
hi what is behavioralism ?
jusem
what is psychology..?
Ania
the science of mental life.
Mikiyas
because emotion can't be measured.
marikrizz Reply
only by the person having the emotion.
Jason
it is subjective feeling
suman
only placed within levels of itself
Teena
and accepted as extended or beginning versions of emotions that are completely free of restrictions
Teena
anyone know, (2+2)/2
start
Emotions can't be measured, but they can be recognized. To be able to recognize certain characteristics that'll give me an idea about an individual's state of mind.
jeddy
any one knows (2+2)/2
start
it is 6
suman
anyone (2+2)/2
start
2
fadil
😂
suman
then more then just recognize but to comprehend the emotions being observed separating your own emotions from the situation currently in.. and rationally gaging the environment.. while then pulling each possible emotional vibe or energy exerted from the human being observed
Teena
How does learning influence behaviour
Tumpa Reply
our choice of study molds us and encourages us to practice what we learn. social structure also changes behavior based on the environment and peers. how we learn can be experimental as not everyone lesrns the same. some are more of a hands-on absorber, whereas others may learn better from listening
A confidence from personal knowledge. Not from having been taugbt. knowledge that you learned what was taught.
jeddy
life is choice, be ready for the best and be prepare for what yet to come in your way(Destiny)
Wayne
what is development
Momna Reply
In what Context are you referring to
Hassan
the progression/degression/growth of something. it is interpreted most commonly in psychology as how something is created or formed. ex: When did you develop an interest in psychology?
when refering to physical, cognitive, and social development, these types of development are determined by many circumstances. such as demographics, biology, and personality/character
it is the apprehensions fluency based by the process of configurations to a design based on product/witness series noticeboards to note the stats on order to retail agreements on stated series order.
Kay
Evolving
jeddy
I'm on my first year of a psychology course, is there anything I should know? anything you wished you knew when you just started psychology ? because I feel like I'm walking into all of this blindly
Lia Reply
hello
GOPAL
I feel exactly the same. Just about to start Psychology and Criminology. feeling slightly nervous 🙈
Sarah
and everything is online
Lia
only for a few weeks I believe. Unless I have read it wrong. I believe that they will try and filter everyone in.
Sarah
it's different for every country
Lia
hi
GOPAL
I start 9/14. Online as well.
LaQuisha
I know very little about Psychology
GOPAL
which area are you specialising in
Elle
yeah, everthing your just know, that psychology is everthing come out with, mind, behavior and emotion. and believe, once you study it, you will understand, wjy people act like that.
EDWARD
after a successful job interview,Mr.Abhishek felt relaxed and calm,he stopped sweating and felt hungry,which part of his nervous system was activated
Babaljeet Reply
Hypothalamus
Words
what is the Borysenko model and why is it important?
Sarah
It explains the link between stress and diseases ie.. How long term stress on the mind or body can lead to chronic migraines, ulcers, depression...
Jennifer
I understand there is a link between stress and illness and disease. that when you are in high-stress situations for prolonged periods of time that the brain releases an abundance of stress hormones such as epinephrine, norepinephrine, cortisol, and aldosterone. idk anymore than that.
Sarah
what is the strees anger
Divya
what is difference between illness and disease
Umair
anyone knows (2+2)/2
start
Hy everybody any one who can help me to understand the concept of Structuralism in easy words?
sabiha Reply
If you really considered looking into yourself find the reason of the possibilities or the environment and atmosphere in which you're placed with or without choice in voluntary or involuntary from birth to now, and also consider all existential extensions of yourself including spiritual recognition.
Darling
? and compare them to social,judicial, learned events,experiences, influences and dive into there branches? somehow reflects our mechanic motivations and has an effect on who we are and what we represent. ?😲
Darling
critical evaluation on attitude change and formation those that even exist
COMORDOR
who is considered of a father of psychology
Satyendra Reply
Freud
Lithemba
Immanuel Kant: Critique of Pure Reason.
David
wundt
Namrata
Wundt
Disha
wundt
NishaOfficial
wundt
Naheed
wundt
Jasmine
id say freud but wundt continued his work. let's face it without freud there wouldn't be a psychology practices
Michelle
Freud is considered as the father of Psychoanalysis not psychology
Indefatigable
technically Freud would be the father of psychology because he discovered the id ego and super ego
Bryce
Its kind of a loaded question. There are many early greats in psychology each having their own theories and views. I think it is more of a collective of ideals that make up our current view and understanding of psychology.
Jason
I agree with you Jason. there are Amazing psychologist back then that made the foundation for the field of psychology
Bryce
Wilhelm Winston ryt
Faazi
Wundt
Waris
i agree to you Jason
Welli
is there any name for the fear of dying painfully? is it the same as thanatophobia?
Matthew Reply
hello matthew i am new
Barbara
who is reinhart
Hannah Reply
hello, why are you asking me this?
She
hello, how are you?
Corey
hey Corey, all fine, how are you doing?
She
Hello everyone
Indefatigable
hello
Hannah
Which specialization in psychology interest you? why?
Ailyn
hello, hannah, I'm fine thanks and how are you?
Corey
or she
Corey
hello hannah and corey
Barbara
What makes a personal quality part of someone's personality?
that's a great question 🤔
Love
what do you want to learn in psychogy?
Alyana Reply
I have been observing An incredible amount of people, who are using some kind of stimulant. I'd like to help give advice into their drug dramas. Help Repair their faulty thinking?
Shaun
Learn more about how the unconscious mind Roles behavior
Shaun
Rules *
Shaun
hello
shruti
where from i can learn the rules of unconscious behavior
shruti

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Source:  OpenStax, Psychology. OpenStax CNX. Feb 03, 2015 Download for free at https://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11629/1.5
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