MCAT Content / Nerve Cell / Axon Structure And Function

Axon: structure and function

Topic: Nerve Cell

Axon is a tube-like structure that carries neural signals away from the cell body via the axon terminals.

The cell body contains the axon hillock that collects signals from many synapses. The axon hillock serves as a junction between the cell body and an axon. The axon then delivers these collected signals to specialized endings called axon terminals, which synapse on other neurons, muscles, or organs. Chemicals released at axon terminals allow signals to be communicated to other cells. Neurons usually have one or two axons, but some neurons do not contain any axons.

Cellular structure of neurons: Neurons have more specialized structures such as axon, axon hillock, and axon terminal.

Practice Questions

 Khan Academy

Demyelinating disease and aging

 MCAT Official Prep (AAMC)

Key Points

• Axons are tube-like structures that send signals to other neurons, muscles, or organs; not all neurons have axons.

• Axon hillock, a part of the cell body that connects to the axon, collects signals from many synapses.

• Axon terminals are specialized endings to which the collected signals are delivered to reach other neurons, muscles, or organs.

Key Terms

axon: long slender projection of a nerve cell that conducts nerve impulses away from the cell body to other neurons, muscles, and organs

axon hillock: a specialized part of the cell body of a neuron that connects to the axon.

cell body: a portion of a neuron where the nucleus, endoplasmic reticulum, and ribosomes are located; also known as the soma

axon terminal: the endings of the axon

synapse: a structure that permits a neuron (or nerve cell) to pass an electrical or chemical signal to another neuron 

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