question: job of a neuron

Kalman Rubinson kr4 at nyu.edu
Mon Sep 3 10:06:32 EST 2001


On Mon, 03 Sep 2001 01:31:01 GMT, "Mark Zarella"
<markzarella at mediaone.net> wrote:

>Perhaps the easiest way of descibing its job rather than the "how" part is
>to say that it simply transmits and transduces signals.  Your question seems
>to me to be akin to asking "what is the job of a copper wire in a XYZ
>circuit?"  The answer depends on that particular copper wire's relation to
>the other components.

But we already get into problems when you say it 'transduces' signals.
While most neurons do transduce signals by converting chemical energy
into an electrical signal, transduction, per se, is not a defining
property since the synapses can be electrical. A neurons sums,
temporally and spatially, all the signals impinging on it and fires an
output signal or signals depending on the inputs and the membrane
properties of the neuron.  It can function as a gating unit, a
computing unit, a time-keeper and many other roles.

The original query suggested that the poster wanted a simplistic
definition and, as you say, that's equivalent to asking the function
of a particular wire, or any other generic component, in a complex
circuit.

Kal




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