Our brain has a network of neurons to communicate with other cells and carry out various tasks. Axons and dendrites are both parts of a neuron.
- Axons are the long, slender extensions of nerve cells (neurons) responsible for transmitting electrical impulses away from the cell body; dendrites are the shorter, branched extensions that receive incoming signals from other neurons.
- Axons are covered in a myelin sheath that aids in signal transmission and speeds up the conduction of electrical impulses; dendrites lack this protective covering.
- The primary function of axons is to send information, while dendrites receive and process information, allowing neurons to communicate within the nervous system.
Axons vs. Dendrites
Axons are a part of a neuron that transmits signals to other neurons or muscles. They are elongated, cable-like structures that can be several feet long in some cases. A dendron is a branched projection of a nerve cell that receives signals from other neurons and conducts them towards the cell body.
Small branch-like projections at its terminal establish a connection with other dendrites and pass the electrical signal to communicate with other neurons.
|Parameters of Comparison
|Elongated fiber like
|A small branch like
|It is the longest part of a neuron.
|A dendrite is comparatively shorter.
|It contains neurofibrils but
lacks Nissl’s granules and
forms a synaptic knot at
|It contains both neuro-
fibrils and Nissl’s granules.
But does not form a synaptic
knot at the end.
|Number (in a single neuron)
|A neuron has just one axon ( sometimes from a dendrite but originating from the soma or cell body).
|A neuron has many dendrites originating from the cell body.
|It transmits the electrical signal from the soma or cell body
to the dendrite of another
|Dendrite receives the electric signal
from the axon through the
synaptic knot and brings it to
the cell body of the
What is Axon?
An axon passes the information from the cell body (Soma) to the dendrite of another neuron in the form of an electrical impulse through the synaptic gap. These axons can be a few millimeters to more than one meter long.
An axon is the long projection of a neuron with branch-like structures at the end. The axon hillock connects it with the neuron’s (Soma) cell body. It consists of a microtubule and some microfilaments.
Scientists believe these structures help transport nutrients and electrical impulses from the cell body to the axon. It is surrounded by a Myelin sheath (a kind of fatty material) in the form of Schwann cells.
At its end, the neuron splits into branch-like structures called telodendrons, whose end part is known as an axon terminal.
A neuron has one axon originating from the cell body, but sometimes axons arise directly from the dendrite.
What is Dendrite?
A dendrite is a small branch-like projection of a neuron. Dendrites have small spine-like structures on their surface on which the axon of another neuron gets attached through the synaptic gap.
The axon passes the information towards its terminal, where the dendrite receives the information in this synaptic gap through small receptors present on the surface of its spine.
Dendrites contain ribosomes, smooth endoplasmic reticulum, Golgi apparatus, and cytoskeletal structures.
A large number of dendrites with a branch-like structure increases the surface area of a neuron to connect with other neurons.
Main Differences Between Axon and Dendrite
- An axon may be originated directly from an axon, but a dendrite does not arise from an axon.
- A dendrite has several receptors on its surface to receive the electrical impulse in the form of some chemical which again turns into an electrical signal or impulse before sending it to the cell body (soma), but axons lack such receptors.
Last Updated : June 11th, 2023
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Piyush Yadav has spent the past 25 years working as a physicist in the local community. He is a physicist passionate about making science more accessible to our readers. He holds a BSc in Natural Sciences and Post Graduate Diploma in Environmental Science. You can read more about him on his bio page.