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Neurons Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Rebecca Gillaspy

Dr. Gillaspy has taught health science at University of Phoenix and Ashford University and has a degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic.

Neurons are nerve cells. They carry electrical messages around your body. Nerve cells don't look like other cells in your body. They have unusual parts called dendrites and axons. Learn how neurons use dendrites and axons to send messages.

Neurons

You have trillions of cells in your body. You would think that all of your cells would have to be very tiny to fit inside of you! Most of your cells are tiny, but there is one cell that stretches from your back to your big toe! This long cell is one of the neurons or nerve cells of your body. Neurons carry electrical messages from one part of your body to another. These messages contain information about what's happening and help you respond in the right way.

What Do Neurons Look Like?

Neurons are shaped differently than other cells of your body. They have unusual parts called dendrites and axons. Dendrites and axons act like telephone lines because they are what allow neurons to communicate messages.

Neuron
Neuron

Dendrites are smaller than axons. Each neuron can have many dendrites. They look like roots growing out of the cell body. Dendrites bring electrical messages into the nerve.

A neuron might have only one axon. An axon looks like a long stem growing off of the cell body. Axons carry electrical messages away from the nerve cell body. If you remember that axon and away both start with the letter A, it will make it easier to remember the axon's job. Axons are covered with a material called myelin. Myelin helps the electrical signal move quickly down the axon.

How Do Neurons Communicate?

Did you ever whisper a secret in your friends' ear? You shared that secret message using words. Your nerve cells don't use words to share their messages. Instead, neurons use chemicals and electrical signals.

Neurons don't touch each other, either. Between two neurons there is a small gap called a synapse. When one neuron wants to talk to another neuron, it sends chemicals called neurotransmitters into the synapse. The other neuron picks up the neurotransmitters and changes them into an electrical signal that can be passed along.

Types of Neurons

Neurons are classified based on the direction that they carry information.

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