By David Ottoson (auth.)
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Extra resources for Physiology of the Nervous System
The most common type is represented by the synapse found between the afferent axon terminals and the soma of spinal motoneurons. Here the endings of the presynaptic fibre form bulbous boutons terminaux which closely approach the postsynaptic cell membrane. Electron microscopy shows a structural asymmetry in the contact region, with respect to the distribution of organelles in the presynaptic and postsynaptic components and with respect to the distribution of electrodense material near the two apposed membranes.
The fast transport is an active process and depends on an adequate supply of oxygen. What is the driving mechanism responsible for the fast intra-axonal transport of material? Observations indicating that ATP is involved in the process and the finding of actin in various kinds of cells have led to the hypothesis that the fast transport is produced by sliding movements of the filaments, in analogy with the sliding filament hypothesis of muscle contraction (see p. 91 ). It has been suggested that the organelle to be transported is attached at one end of a filament, which at its other end is attached to a microtubule that runs for a long distance along the axon.
A typical motoneuron in the spinal cord may have its soma and dendrites covered with synaptic knobs (Fig. 21). The only region of the neuron relatively devoid of synaptic contacts is the axon hillock portion from which the axon emerges. In other cells the synaptic contact may take the form of a cup that covers a great proportion of the cell surface (Fig. 22). In regions receiving a major sensory input, such as the thalamic nuclei or the substantia The Neuron 31 Fig. 21 (A) Synaptic terminals of axons in contact with a spinal motoneuron.