Let’s talk about brain

Cells of the central nervous system


Brain and the spinal cord constitute the Central Nervous system (CNS). Brain is regarded as an immensely complex organ with the highest computing power and integrated processing system which can process multiple information simultaneously. This is the reason why you can see a person, talk to them, beware of the environment, respond to conversation you are involved and while all of these are regulated externally, inside your body the homeostasis and regulations are also controlled without alerting your consciousness.

All these functions are controlled and coordinated by the individual units in brain called the neurons. But are they the only ones? No. Brain can’t function the way it should be when they are solely composed of neurons. They need supporting cells called the glial cells for their smooth functioning. Broadly the major cell types in the CNS are

  1. Neurons
  2. Glial cells

These broad categories are further sub-divided depending on their morphology, chemistry, functions etc.

Neurons

Neurons or nerve cells are the fundamental units of the brain. Human brain is composed of billions (~ in the order of 1011) of these tiny cells which can sense the changes in the environment, communicate with other higher order cells, and act to these changes by modulating the body’s response to these changes. Depending on their functions, types and morphology, these neurons can again sub-divided in to different categories.

Neurons form long mesh like networks with other neurons to communicate and transfer informations. And thus, these networks or circuits are the determinants of human behaviour and our mental abilities.

Architecture of a neuron

Glial cells

Prof. Mark F. Bayer in his book “Neuroscience: Exploring the brain” said ” if brain were a chocolate chip cookie, the neurons are the chocolate chips and the glia would be the cookie dough that fills the space and suspends the chip in their appropriate locations”

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