Introduction

The neuron is a member of the class of cells most closely identified with the functions of the nervous system, namely, the transduction, processing, storage, and translation of environmental information into meaningful behaviors. The term neuron was coined by the German neuroanatomist Wilhelm Waldeyer in 1891. Neurons are unique among cells in their large size, complexity, and the diversity of their forms, which are closely related to the functions they subserve. The neuron is the fundamental anatomical building block of the neuronal circuits underlying behavior, but it is not the only cell type in the nervous system nor indeed the most numerous. That distinction belongs to a second class of cells called the neuroglia or simply glia. Although the focus of this article is the neuron, a neuron does not exist in isolation nor can it properly be described in the singular, because its interactions and associations with other neurons, glia, and target cells are integral to its function.

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