Chapter 3: Neurons

This chapter was adapted from:

Furtak, S. (2021). Neurons. In R. Biswas-Diener & E. Diener (Eds), Noba textbook series: Psychology. Champaign, IL: DEF publishers. Retrieved from  License: CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 DEED

This chapter relating to the biological basis of behavior provides an overview of the basic structure of neurons and their means of communication. Neurons, cells in the central nervous system, receive information about the world around us from our sensory systems (vision, audition, olfaction, gustation, and somatosensation); in turn, they process that information and plan and execute appropriate responses, including attending to a stimulus, learning new information, speaking, eating, mating, and evaluating potential threats. The goal of this chapter is to become familiar with the anatomical structure of neurons and to understand how neurons communicate by electrochemical signals to process sensory information and produce complex behaviors. A basic knowledge of the structure and function of neurons is a necessary foundation as you move forward in the field of psychology.


Learning Objectives

  • Differentiate the functional roles of the two main cell classes in the brain—neurons and glia.
  • Describe how the forces of diffusion and electrostatic pressure work collectively to facilitate electrochemical communication.
  • Define resting membrane potential, excitatory postsynaptic potentials, inhibitory postsynaptic potentials, and action potentials.
  • Explain features of axonal and synaptic communication in neurons.


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Biological Psychology Copyright © 2024 by Michael J. Hove and Steven A. Martinez is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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