question: job of a neuron

Kalman Rubinson kr4 at nyu.edu
Mon Sep 3 10:55:51 EST 2001

On Mon, 03 Sep 2001 15:21:42 GMT, Richard  Norman
<rsnorman at mediaone.net> wrote:

>As you say, a synapse can be electrical.  By the same token, a neuron
>does NOT have to "fire".  There are many neurons that function
>perfectly well without being able to produce action potentials. That
>is why I simply referred to the membrane potential as being the
>information carrier.  The release of synaptic transmitter (or the
>functioning of an electrical synapse) works perfectly well with graded
>membrane potentials.

Agreed.  I fell into the same trap.  That's exactly the reason that a
simplistic or, rather, off the cuff, definition is dangerous.  The
naive may grab onto terms or implications that the more knowledgeable
would not.

>The notion of cell machinery and mechanisms is being transformed by
>the more complete understanding and appreciation of the role of "cell
>signaling".  In this context, the function of the neuron is best
>understood is an extreme specialization of the cell signaling
>machinery.  Neurons do not really do anything that other cells don't
>also do.  They just do it to extreme.

Yup.  Of course, that won't help the ignorant who should do some

Kal (who, with great bravado, presented the premise that neurons were
specialized endocrine cells at his comprehensives many decades ago. It
may have served to distract the committee from his other

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