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.