Unipolar neurons: characteristics, location and functions

The neuron is the basic unit of our nervous system. It is a type of cell through which information is transmitted both at the level of the nervous system itself and in relation to other bodily systems, which this system controls.

But not all neurons are the same, but there are several types classified according to different criteria. One of these types is known as unipolar neurons, Which this article discusses.

    The basic unit of the nervous system

    The neuron is a specialized cell which, as we have said, is the basic unit of the nervous system. This type of cell allows the transmission of information of various types by means of bioelectric impulses, thanks to which our organism can function.

    The neuron is made up of a nucleus located in the soma or the pericarion, in which a large part of the reactions and protein synthesis take place that allow its functioning, an axon or an extension which is part of it and allows the transport of the signal. bioelectrical to other neurons or organs and dendrites, branch-like structures that receive information from previous neurons.

    There are different types of neurons. They can be classified in different ways, For example depending on the type of information they transmit, or their morphology, and can be found in different parts of the body. Within the classification based on morphology, we can find multipolar, bipolar or unipolar neurons.

    Unipolar and pseudounipolar neurons: morphological features

    By unipolar neurons we mean neurons in which only an extension or neurite comes from the soma, which will act as an axon and at the same time have dendrites with which it can both receive and transmit information. This type of neuron is usually the main one in invertebrate animals, But also appear to a lesser extent in vertebrates.

    As we said, the unipolar neuron has only one neurite or extension which acts as an axon. However, this neuritis is usually divided into two branches. In this case, we would speak of pseudounipolar neurons, A variation of a unipolar neuron that has two ends that function as axons (which originate from the same extension and not from the soma, which would still be a unipolar neuron).

    These branches derived from the neurite generally have a differentiated function: one will be dedicated to the reception of information and the other to its transmission. More precisely, the branch dedicated to reception tends to connect with peripheral elements, while the one that transmits information goes to the nervous system. At the end of the first, also called the peripheral branch, are the dendrites. The second, the central branch, acts as an axon transmitting information. This transmission has a particularity: the nerve impulse can jump from the dendrites to the axon without passing through the soma.

    Location in the nervous system

    Unipolar and pseudounipolar neurons these are rare and rare types of neurons in the human body, But we have them in different places.

    they can find forming part of the root of the spinal nerves and ganglia, Specifically in the dorsal root, in which they connect the nervous system to peripheral organs. Thus, they are part of the autonomic nervous system. In addition to this, neurons of this type have been found in the retina.

    Function of unipolar neurons

    Unipolar neurons, despite their relatively small presence compared to other types of neurons, have an important function in our body. we are in front fibers which function to receive information from peripheral organs and transmit it to the nervous system. In other words, they are afferent neurons.

    Thus, in humans, they often play an important role in perception. They are actively involved in the detection of tactile stimuli, both in terms of their own touch and in the detection of pain. They are also related to the sense of sight and can be found in the retina.

    Bibliographical references:

    • Cardinali, DP (2007). Applied neuroscience. Its foundations. Pan American Medical Editorial. Buenos Aires.
    • Gómez, M. (2012). Psychobiology. CEDE PIR preparation manual 12. CEDE: Madrid.
    • Kandel, ER; Schwartz, JH and Jessell, TM (2001). Principles of neuroscience. Fourth edition. McGraw-Hill Inter-American. Madrid.

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