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The Art in Science

Product Image Cracks in the Universe

Cracks in the Universe

Kristen Verhey, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, University of Michigan Medical School

The human brain contains approximately 100 billion neurons (nerve cells) that receive, process and convey information. Each neuron consists of a cell body (soma) with several cellular extensions (the dendrites) for receiving information and one cellular extension (the axon) for transmitting information. The unidirectionality of information flow depends on the proper formation of dendrites and axons during development. In addition, many neurodegenerative diseases arise from genetic or environmental lesions that impede information flow. Thus, we aim to understand the cellular and molecular processes by which neurons develop dendrites and axons. The neurons in this image are from the hippocampus of an embryonic mouse and are well on their way in the developmental process of forming axons (pink) and dendrites (blue).