What Is a Cell Body? - Definition, Function & Types Video

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  • 0:00 What Is a Neuron?
  • 0:21 The Cell Body
  • 0:45 Functions of the Cell Body
  • 2:10 Types of Cell Bodies
  • 2:54 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Amanda Robb
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.


The Cell Body

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


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.

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