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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2022, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a neurite, or axis cylinder; the process of a nerve cell along which neural impulses proceed from the cell body to innervated organs and other nerve cells.

Only one axon branches off each neuron, or nerve cell. The nutrition and growth of the axon depends on the neuron body; upon transection of the axon, its peripheral portion dies, but the central portion preserves its viability. Large animals possess axons—for example, those proceeding from the spinal cord to the extremities—that may reach a length of one meter or more when their diameter is several millimicrons (mμ). In some animals—for example, squid and fish—huge axons are found which measure hundreds of mμ in thickness. In axoplasm—that is, the protoplasm of axons—there are extremely thin fibrils, known as neurofibrils, as well as mitochondria and the endoplasmic network. Depending on whether axons are covered with a myelic (fatty) membrane or not, they are known as medullated or nonmedullated nerve fibers. The structure of the membranes and the diameters of the axons that constitute the nerve fiber are the factors that determine the rate of stimulus transmission along the nerve. The terminal sections of the axon, or terminals, branch off and make contact with other nerve, muscle, and gland cells. Stimuli are transmitted through these contact points, which are known as synapses. A nerve is a collection of axons.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


The process or nerve fiber of a neuron that carries the unidirectional nerve impulse away from the cell body. Also known as neuraxon; neurite.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
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