An Overview of Human Cells for Light Microscopists
A 3D modelling article
by Mol Smith 2010
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  Generic Human Cell  Neurons  Synapses    Resources and external links
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The Human Neuron Cell
Without doubt, the human brain is considered the most complex structure in the explored Universe. Over 100 billion cells compacted into a space no larger than a small melon, this organ is the seat of sophisticated awareness and a reality-modelling system second to none. It cannot be compared to a computer, even though many analogies are incorrectly made, because almost every single cell component is a unique processor plus memory device. Unlike computers, the brain continually readjusts its hardware: new physical connections are constantly being made as redundant ones are broken. The magic component in this truly outstanding achievement of evolution and nature is a cell called a Neuron.

Unique Cell
Neurons in the brain (with one exception - in the hippocampus) cannot replicate themselves, and are therefore incapable of renewal, which makes the neuron unique when compared to all other cells in the human body. Neurons form a complex web (a network) with multi-flexible-connections achieved via tiny tentacle-like structures (dendrites), almost touching at their tips. The microscopic gap between any two connections is called a synaptic gap, and it is across this space, that tiny messenger chemicals travel to appropriate chemical receivers on dendrites at the far side. Processes which conduct impulses towards the main cell body are called Dendrons, and those which conduct impulses away from the cell body are called Axons. Different types of neurons (nerve cells) exist in the human body: uniploar, bipolar, psuedounipolar, and multipolar. These cells are future supported in the brain by Neuroglia, cells which are ten times more numerously packed around the neurons throughout the central nervous system. These are thought to be involved in memory processes and their function is to encode information in the form of RNA.

I have a used a single 3D model of a Neuron to create an artist's view of a section of a Neural Network composed of brain cells. This movie below represents a static section of the human brain, minus supporting tissues, chemicals, and blood vessels.


Now, let us take a closer look at a single Neuron. I have used a virtual 3D model to produce two cells below. They are the same cell but I have made one of them more transparent so you can look at the hidden processes inside.

You might wish to compare my model with the SEM image of a similar Neuron below, and then see the detailed diagram beneath it. Both these images are from Wiki and are used here under the collective commons licence. Please refer to wiki for reuse permissions.

The SEM image of a Neuron is produced here (above) under the Creative Commons Licence and is located at Wiki.
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I think one of the true miracles of the human brain is the fact that the Neuron uses both electrical and chemical processes to facilitate communication between cells. This ultimately produces human thought. Let's take a look at this process...


Comments to the author
Mol Smith are welcomed.

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Published in April 2010 Micscape Magazine.
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