Activity 221 The NeuronIntroductionYou Are Waiting

Topics: Nervous system, Neuron, Axon Pages: 5 (1916 words) Published: December 4, 2014


Activity 2.2.1: The Neuron
You are waiting to cross the street at a busy intersection. All of a sudden, two cars collide right in front of you. Your hands instantaneously fly up to shield your face. You hear the horrible crunch of metal. You smell the burning rubber of tires and you open your eyes to see the skid marks on the road. Reaching for your cell phone, you dial 911. Your heart races as you run out in the street to see if you can be of any help. So much is happening at one time, you feel like your brain is on overload.


Just how does your nervous system deal with so much information at one time? Did you realize that a big part of communication between and within human body systems is electrical in nature? Without it, body processes would shut down, starting with your heartbeat! You should remember from PBS that your heart beats when an electrical signal moves through the atria and ventricles. When a heart is failing and this electrical signal is weak or nonexistent, doctors can “shock” the heart back into rhythm with a blast of electricity.


But the heart is not the only organ of the body that communicates through electrical signals. Cells and tissues throughout the body “talk” to one another electrically. A superhighway of nerves moves impulses around the body allowing us to process stimuli and make an appropriate response. Electrical signals travel in paths that take information to and from the brain and spinal cord. These signals allow the nervous system to react quickly while at the same time processing a great deal of sensory information.


The nervous system interacts with all other systems in the body and reacts to thousands of different stimuli on a minute to minute basis. Specialized cells called neurons work together to respond to these stimuli, process the information and produce an appropriate response.



In your brain alone, you have as many as 100 billion neurons. But, don’t brag. An octopus has on average 300 billion neurons in its brain. Your neurons vary greatly in size, from as small as 4 microns to as large as nearly one meter. But, if you were to line up all the neurons in your body in a straight line, the line would be about 600 miles long. Communication within and between your systems is dependent upon these neurons. The structure of these specialized cells is uniquely linked to their function of moving information around the body. In this activity, you will investigate the structure and function of neurons. There are three general types of neurons, distinguished by the direction they transmit impulses. You will create models or drawings of the three types of neurons: sensory neurons, motor neurons and association neurons (sometimes called interneurons). You will also investigate how they work together to send messages in the body. By writing job descriptions for each type of neuron, you will investigate the Project Lead The Way, Inc.

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function of these cells. Using your knowledge of neuron communication, you will then create a flow chart that outlines what goes on in the body from an initial stimulus to a response. In later activities, you learn how the movement of ions in the membrane of these neurons generates and sends out a deliverable impulse.


Computer with Internet access and Inspiration® software
Laboratory journal
Modeling clay (assorted colors)
Pipe cleaners (assorted colors)
Assorted modeling supplies
Poster board- one piece per two students
Ruler or meter stick
Colored markers
Glue or tape
Reference textbook (optional)

Part I: Basic Neuron Design
1. Work with your partner to investigate the structure and function of three different types of neurons. Use anatomy reference textbooks, the sites listed below or other reliable sites you might find to complete the activity.

o The Human...
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