question: job of a neuron

Richard Norman rsnorman at mediaone.net
Mon Sep 3 11:35:12 EST 2001

On Mon, 03 Sep 2001 11:55:51 -0400, Kalman Rubinson <kr4 at nyu.edu>

>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

Sorry, this is a NEUROscience group.  The simple fact is that
endocrine cells are specialized neurons!  The neurohypophysis and
adrenal medulla started the trend and they went downhill from there.

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