Beautiful Science: Dentrites

Nerve cells or neurons, which number in the billions are among the most beautiful of cells in the brain. Thin dendrites resembling a plant’s roots radiate in all directions from the cell body of the cortical neuron. These are not just pretty appendages. Recent research indicates that dendrites have computational abilities of their own, independent of that of neurons. They can process the signals they receive from adjacent neurons before passing them as inputs to the nerve cell’s overall response. The emerging picture is that of a complex, multi-unit processing systems where dendritic trees work hand-in-hand with neurons to perform the intricate computations that explain a host of things from sensory perceptions to perhaps consciousness.

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