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Dendrites$
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Greg Stuart, Nelson Spruston, and Michael Häusser

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780198566564

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198566564.001.0001

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Dendrite structure

Dendrite structure

Chapter:
(p.1) Chapter 1 Dendrite structure
Source:
Dendrites
Author(s):

John C. Fiala

Josef Spacek

Kristen M. Harris

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198566564.003.0001

Dendrites are extensions of the cell body of the neuron specialized for receiving and processing synaptic inputs. Dendrites exhibit enormously diverse forms. In many cases the shape of the dendritic arbor can be related to the mode of connectivity between neurons, with dendrites often ramifying in characteristic spatial domains where they receive specific inputs. Synaptic inputs occur directly on the shaft of some dendrites, but other dendrites have specialized enlargements or protrusions to receive synapses. These synaptic specializations also occur in many different forms related to local connectivity requirements. The use of serial section electron microscopy to obtain detailed quantitative data on these structures has shown that synaptic specializations differ widely in dimensions, distribution, and intracellular composition. The shape and composition of dendrites are under the continual influence of the local environment, as demonstrated by various pathological conditions. Understanding the structural diversity of dendrites is essential for understanding the intricacies of dendritic function and the contribution dendrites make to mental processes.

Keywords:   dendrites, neurons, synaptic inputs, intracellular composition, pathological conditions, dendritic function

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