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Classification, organization, and function of neurons

The brain of the Californian Sea-Lion:
Two neurons, neurons 1 and 2, have cell bodies which are located in the primary motor cortex. Neuron 1 synapses onto neurons in the spinal cord and neuron 2 synapses onto neurons within the same area in the primary motor cortex.
1. Based on their function how would these neurons be classified?
2. What type of cortical neurons would they most likely be?
3. Would you expect to find any oligodendrocytes alongside these neurons in the primary motor cortex?

Solution Preview

The brain of the Californian Sea-Lion:

Two neurons, neurons 1 and 2, have cell bodies which are located in the primary motor cortex. Neuron 1 synapses onto neurons in the spinal cord and neuron 2 synapses onto neurons within the same area in the primary motor cortex.

1. Based on their function how would these neurons be classified?

There are two basic ways to classify neurons:
by their structure (such as bipolar, unipolar, multipolar, etc.) or
by their function (sensory, motor, or interneurons).

In this question we need to classify the two Sea-Lion neurons based on function.
To determine how to classify the neurons we need to know:
where they are located (either Central or Peripheral Nervous System) and
which other structures they are connected to (synapsing with).

Location: We know the location is the primary motor cortex. Is this the central or peripheral nervous system?

Synapses: We know the neuron 1 is synapsing with neurons in the spinal cord and neuron two is synapsing with other neurons with in the primary motor cortex.

With this information you should be able to classify these neurons as Sensory, Motor, or Interneurons.

Important Definitions to help you:

Central Nervous System (CNS): The brain and spinal cord.

Peripheral Nervous System (PNS): All nervous system structures outside of the brain and spinal cord, including sensory and motor neurons. The PNS is subdivided into the sensory-somatic and autonomic nervous systems.

Sensory Neurons: those neurons that carry signals from the peripheral nervous system into the central nervous system. For example neurons connected to environmental receptors such touch receptors.

Motor Neurons: those that carry signals from the ...

Solution Summary

Using the Sea-Lion as a model, this solution discusses the function, structure, and organization of brain components, specifically neurons and oligodendrocytes.

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