What is the difference between a dendrite and axon of a neuron?

Hi Everyone;

         I am wondering what the difference is between a dendrite and axon of a neuron.  Do they regulate the input and output of signals of a  neuron?

        Any shared thoughts to this question will be appreciated.

       Thank you

       George
GMartinAsked:
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ozoCommented:
dendrites are branching projections that bring signals in
an axon is a ling fiber that sends sends signals out
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top_rungCommented:
Dendrites receive information  and send it to the cell body (in way of electrical impulses).  The information is passed to the dendrite across a void called the synapse via neurotransmitters, which if powerful enough or in enough quantity, create electrical reactions that propagte onward to the cell body.  Further down, the Axon, takes information from the cell body and passes it down the fiber to its terminal where it potentially releases transmitters (across a synapse)  to other dendrites from another nerve or to muscles for example to cause them to contract.

I don't believe it has been proven that they actively regulate, but once the activation threshold is reached, there is evidence that mechanism exist that potentially amplify signals.
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GMartinAuthor Commented:
Hi Everyone;

        Thanks so much for the prompt and well thought out replies.  Just out of curiousity, are there examples of neurological or mental disorders in which the dendrites and axons are effected?  

         George
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ozoCommented:
Loss of the myelin sheath around the axon causes Multiple Sclerosis
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top_rungCommented:
Sure, this falls under neurodegeneration...

Alzheimers disease, CreutzfeldtJakob disease are examples.  Studies find a lack of dendritic response (electrical response).
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top_rungCommented:
And of course, one of the most visible effects of this are in Parkinson's disease.  Tremors, stiffness, etc.  The degeneration of the nerves (dendrites, axons collectively) cause alterations in Dopamine release and reception, which controls the body's movements.
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ozoCommented:
There are  dendritic abnormalities in Fragile X Syndrome, Alzheimer's, and Down's
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top_rungCommented:
I had to look for evidence in mental disorders in Schizophrenia, and check this out....
http://archpsyc.ama-assn.org/cgi/reprint/57/4/349.pdf
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GMartinAuthor Commented:
Hi Everyone;

         Many thanks everyone for the well thought out and organized replies to this post.  Each answerr given was informative and certainly easy to understand.  I especailly appreciate the examples given when nerve cells composed of dendrites and axons become degenerative.  

          In closing, thanks once again fo the help to this post.

        George
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