Encyclopedia of Animal Cognition and Behavior

Living Edition
| Editors: Jennifer Vonk, Todd Shackelford


Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-47829-6_1224-1



A neuron is a specialized cell that transmits electrical impulses and is the basic unit of the nervous system.


Neurons are the basic unit of the nervous system; when bundled together they create nerves, the spinal cord, and the brain. They can transmit information with electrical and chemical signals. This characteristic allows for processing in different brain structures and for sending information throughout the body. To do this, neurons form networks and communicate with each other via nerve impulses, also known as action potentials. Typically, a neuron has dendrites to receive electrical signals, a cell body, or soma, for integration, an axon for propagation, and axon terminals to release neurotransmitters into the synaptic cleft, a junction between two neurons.

All neurons have a relative negative resting potential that is maintained by the sodium-potassium pump. There are three major ions in the electrochemical activity of a neuron:...

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Hofstra UniversityHempsteadUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Oskar Pineno
    • 1
  1. 1.Hofstra UniversityLong IslandUSA