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Name: ___________________________________ Period: _______
The Anatomy of the Neuron
Instructions: (1) Carefully read the text presented in this worksheet, (2) Use the descriptions in the text
to help you to label the diagram below, (3) Use the text and the descriptions to help you answer the
Neurons are long, thin cells that carry electrochemical signals. Signals from the sensory organs may be
perceived by the brain as sound, sight, smell, taste, touch, or pain; signals sent by the brain to the body
may cause the skeletal muscles to contract, the internal organs to operate, or the glands to release their
In many ways, a neuron is like an electric wire. Although electric wires and neurons carry signals in
different ways, their basic jobs are the same; to carry electricity. An electric wire in a radio, for example,
may carry signals from a transistor to a speaker, where the signals are changed into sound. Similarly, the
neurons leaving your ears send electrochemical signals to a specific area of your brain so that you can
hear the sound.
Label all structures in bold letters on the diagram…
1. The main part of the neuron is the cell body or soma. Like other cells, the soma contains
cytoplasm, mitochondria, a nucleus, rough endoplasmic reticulum, and a Golgi complex.
Locate all the structures in bold print on the diagram above and label them.
2. Floating in the cytoplasm of the cell body are irregularly shaped particles called “Nissl bodies”,
scientists think that they are responsible for assembling proteins. Locate the Nissl bodies and
label them.
3. The cytoplasm is filled with small tubes called microtubules. Scientists think that these tubes
carry proteins and other substances through the cell. Locate the microtubules and label them.
4. The tree-like structures on the cell body/soma are called dendrites , the term comes from a
Greek word meaning “tree”. Dendrites direct incoming electrochemical signals toward the cell
body/soma. Locate the dendrites and label them.
5. Incoming electrochemical impulses pas through the cell body/soma and leave the neuron
through a long, thin structure called the axon. Although axons are microscopically thin, many
can reach lengths up to three feet or more. Locate the axon and label it.
6. The nodes of Ranvier are simply tiny gaps that are formed between a layered coating (myelin
sheath) that wraps itself around the axon to insulate it. At these gaps, the axonal membrane is
not insulated, allowing it to generate electrical activity. A function of nodes of Ranvier allow the
nutrients as well as waste to enter and exit the neuron. Another function allows the nerve
impulses to move along the neuron by depolarization and repolarization of the nerve
membrane. Locate the nodes of Ranvier and the myelin sheath and label them.
1. Neurons are long, thin cells that carry ______________________________ signals.
2. When electrochemical signals are sent from the brain to a muscle, what might be the response?
3. The cell body of the neuron is also called the _____________.
4. What do Nissl bodies look like? ____________________________________
5. Scientists think the Nissl bodies are responsible for ____________________________________.
6. In what part of the soma are the microtubules located? ___________________________
7. What do scientists think the microtubules do?
8. Where on the neurons are the dendrites located? ________________________________
9. What is the job of the dendrite? ___________________________________________________
10. What is the job of the axon? ______________________________________________________
11. What is the function of the nodes of Ranvier? ________________________________________
12. What is the job of the myelin sheath? ______________________________________________
13. The axon can reach lengths of three feet or more. In what way might this be important?
14. How is a neuron similar to an electric wire?
15. If you look carefully, you will notice that the soma has a mitochondrion in it. What does the
presence of mitochondria indicate?
16. There are curved arrows on the diagram. What do you think these arrows show?