Neurons are more than globes filled with talented molecules...

Harris and Kater (1994)

The morphology and general characteristics of neurons have been established through pain-staking investigation over the last 100 years. Our understanding of neurons has evolved over the same period from ill-defined corpuscular globules consisting of a lump of protoplasm containing a nucleus to the exquisitely detailed, highly compartmentalized, information processing cellular machines of today. The major challenge facing neurocytologists is the specification of the molecular machinery and the organization of functional domains used by the neuron to accomplish its daunting task. Modern neuroscientists have the advantage of access to powerful computers and algorithms for modeling the behavior of individual neurons and neuron ensembles. As our understanding of neurons, glia, and their interactions increases, further breakthroughs in understanding the functioning of the nervous system in health and disease can be expected.

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Suggested Reading

Ellisman, M. H. (1987). Transcellular filament system. In Encyclopedia of Neuroscience (G. Adelman, Ed.), Vol. II, pp. 1232-1233. Birkhauser, Boston, MA.

Harris, K. M. (1999). Structure, development, and plasticity of dendritic spines. Curre. Opin. Neurobiol. 9, 343-348.

Harris, K. M., and Kater, S. B. (1994). Dendritic spines: Cellular specializations imparting both stability and flexibility to synaptic function. Annu. Rev. Neurosci. 17, 341-371.

Kandel, E. R., Schwartz, J. H., and Jessell, T. M. (2000). Principles of Neural Science, 4th ed. McGraw-Hill, Health Professions Division, New York.

Kennedy, M. B. (1997). The postsynaptic density at glutamatergic synapses. Trends Neurosci. 20, 264-268.

Kennedy, M. B. (1998). Signal transduction molecules at the gluta-matergic postsynaptic membrane. Brain Res. Rev. 26, 243-257.

Levitan, I. R., and Kaczmarek, L. K. (1997). The Neuron: Cell and Molecular Biology, 2nd ed. Oxford University Press, New York.

Peters, A., Palay, S. L., and Webster, H. D. (1991). The Fine Structure of the Nervous System : Neurons and Their Supporting Cells, 3rd ed. Oxford University Press, New York.

Shepherd, G. M. (1998). The Synaptic Organization of the Brain, 4th ed. Oxford University Press, New York.

Shepherd, G. M. (1991). Foundations of the Neuron Doctrine. Oxford University Press, New York.

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