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Ever wonder what controls all the cells in your brain? In this lesson, you will learn about the control center for each neuron in your brain, the cell body.

What Is a Neuron?

Your brain is made up of millions of cells called neurons. Neurons make connections with each other to create pathways that control all aspects of life, such as bodily functions, emotions, and movement. Each neuron is composed of three parts: the cell body, dendrites, and an axon. Today, we’ll look more closely at the cell body.

NeuronDiagram

The Cell Body

The cell body, also called the soma, is the spherical part of the neuron that contains the nucleus.

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The cell body connects to the dendrites, which bring information to the neuron, and the axon, which sends information to other neurons. When information is received from another neuron, the dendrites pass the signal to the cell body. The cell body then may send the information to the axon, depending on the strength of the signal.

Functions of the Cell Body

The job of the cell body is to control all of the functions of the cell. It contains several important organelles that help it do this.

Organelles are tiny organs in the cell that each do a specific job. The most important organelle in the cell body is the nucleus. The nucleus contains the cell’s DNA and regulates all processes in the cell.

The cell needs DNA to act as a blueprint to direct cellular activity. The nucleus also contains the nucleolus, which makes ribosomes needed for protein production.In addition to ribosomes, the cell body also contains the endoplasmic reticulum and the Golgi apparatus. These organelles all work together to help make, package, and sort proteins to the other parts of the cell. Proteins are the building blocks of the cell. They allow neurons to build new axons and dendrites to make new connections with other neurons, and they make the chemicals that neurons need to send signals. The cell body is the manufacturing plant for these very important compounds.

A
Somadiagram

In the image, there are also mitochondria. Mitochondria are the powerhouses of the cell.

They make all the energy the cell needs to carry out its function. Neurons need energy to send and receive signals from other neurons. Microtubules are long chains of protein that the cells use to transport materials. The soma is the starting point for these protein highways in the cell. The microtubules run down the length of the axon to bring it important supplies, like the neurotransmitters that are used to send signals between neurons.

Types of Cell Bodies

There are more than one type of neuron and, thus, more than one type of cell body.

Bipolar neurons have the cell body located in the middle with one axon and one dendrite coming from each end. Unipolar neurons have a projection connecting it to both the axon and the dendrite instead of both attaching directly to the cell body. Multipolar neurons have the cell body attached to a long axon and many dendrites.

types of neurons caption=

There are also neurons with many different functions, which the cell body must make the appropriate proteins for.

Some examples include sensory neurons, which bring information from the environment to the brain; motor neurons, which transmit information from the brain to the body to create movement; and interneurons, which make up most of the mass of the brain.

Lesson Summary

In this lesson, we learned about a specific part of neurons, which make connections with each other to create pathways that control all aspects of life, called the cell body, orsoma. The cell body is the spherical part of the neuron that contains the nucleus and connects to the dendrites, which bring information into the neuron, and the axon, which sends information to other neurons.The job of the cell body is to control all of the functions of the cell. It contains organelles, which are tiny organs in the cell that each do a specific job.

The nucleus is the most important organelle and contains the cell’s DNA and regulates all processes in the cell. The cell body also contains the endoplasmic reticulum and the Golgi apparatus.There are more than one type of neuron and, thus, more than one type of cell body. Some types of neurons include:

  • Bipolar neurons, which have the cell body located in the middle with one axon and one dendrite coming from each end
  • Unipolar neurons, which have a projection connecting it to both the axon and the dendrite instead of both attaching directly to the cell body
  • Multipolar neurons, which have the cell body attached to a long axon and many dendrites

Terms to Remember

cellbodyneurons
  • Neurons: make connections that create pathways that control all aspects of life
  • Cell body/soma: spherical part of the neuron that holds the nucleus
  • Dendrites: connects information to the neuron and the axon
  • Axon: the connector of information to other neurons
  • Organelles: tiny organs in cells with specific job duties
  • Nucleus: the important organelle that holds a cell’s DNA
  • Bipolar neurons: cell body in the middle with an axon and a dendrite on each end
  • Unipolar neuron: projection connects the axon and the dendrite to the cell
  • Multipolar neurons: cell body is connected to a long axon and many dendrites

Learning Outcomes

After the lesson has been studied, you may take the opportunity to complete the following actions:

  • Describe the cell body
  • Determine the purpose of the cell body
  • Name the various types of neurons that may be in play

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