By John R. Anderson
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Additional info for Cognitive Psychology and Its Implications
This near contact between axon and dendrite is called a synapse. Typically, neurons communicate by releasing chemicals, called neurotransmitters, from the axon Dendrite Dendrite Dendrite Receptor cell Cell body Cell body Peripheral branch Myelin sheath Cell body Schwann cell Axon Cell body Node Axon Central branch Neuromuscular junction (a) (b) (c) Muscle (d) 2 Neurons are by no means the majority of cells in the nervous system. There are many others, such as glial cells, whose main function is thought to be supportive of the neurons.
Synapses that decrease the potential difference are called excitatory, and those that increase the difference are called inhibitory. The average soma and dendrite have about 1,000 synapses from other neurons, and the average axon synapses to about 1,000 neurons. The change in electric potential due to any one synapse is rather small, but the individual excitatory and inhibitory effects will accumulate. If there is enough net excitatory input, the potential difference in the soma can drop sharply.
1 illustrates the use of one coding scheme, called ASCII; it contains a pattern of 0s and 1s that codes the words cognitive psychology. Similarly, the brain can represent information in terms of patterns of neural activity rather than simply as cells firing. 1 includes redundant bits that allow the computer to correct errors should certain bits be lost (note that each column has an even number of 1s, which reflects the added bits for redundancy). As in a computer, it seems that the brain codes information redundantly, so that even if certain cells are damaged, it can still determine what the pattern is encoding.
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