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Question Video: Defining the Importance of Dendrites Biology

A key structure of nerve cells (neurons) are the dendrites. What is the primary function of the dendrites?

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Video Transcript

A key structure of nerve cells, neurons, are the dendrites. What is the primary function of the dendrites? (A) To receive and transmit electrical impulses toward the cell body. (B) To transmit impulses from the cell body to the end of the neuron. (C) To insulate the axon and increase the speed of action potential conduction.

To answer this question, let’s review some key facts about the structure and function of dendrites. Neurons interact with one another through points of contact called the synapses. These synapses are created between the dendrites of two neurons. The word dendrite is derived from the Greek term dendron, which means tree. This term helps to describe how the unique shape of dendrites resembles a cluster of tree branches. The treelike structure of dendrites helps to facilitate multiple connections between multiple neurons. For example, one dendrite can make up to 300,000 connections with other neurons.

Most neurons have many dendrites. So you may also hear the term dendritic tree being used to describe a cluster of dendrites on a neuron. The dendritic tree helps receive multiple inputs from multiple neurons at the same time. To facilitate the neuron-to-neuron communication, the dendrites carry out two primary functions: receiving the electrical impulse in the form of chemical messengers called neurotransmitters and transmitting these electrical impulses toward the cell body.

Now that we’ve reviewed these key facts about the structure and function of dendrites, we’re ready to answer the question. The primary function of the dendrites is to receive and transmit electrical impulses toward the cell body.

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