Everything our brain does – from controlling movement, to conscious thoughts, to producing emotions, is achieved by the firing of electrical signals.
The cells that produce and conduct these electrical signals are called neurons.
Cell body around 0.01mm wide
In fact, there's enough electricity in your head to illuminate a light bulb.
Neurons receive and pass on information by converting a stimulus at the end of a nerve fibre, into an electrical charge.
When a cell fires, it can actively grow a long, thin projection, to search for other firing neurons.
Neurons that fire together, wire together
It then makes a connection with this cell. But they never physically touch...
They leave a very tiny gap between them – called a synapse.
Electric signals cannot pass directly across the synapse – so they are converted to chemicals.
Chemicals called Neurotransmitters include:
The chemical messengers move between the two cells... and then the electric impulse can travel on.
As synapses become established, the projections stay in place, and the transmission between the two cells becomes easier and quicker.
Thanks to the use of electrical signals, neurons can communicate fast.
But electricity isn't their only special property...
They have an enormous flexibility to change their connections with other neurons.
This plasticity is the key to all the workings of your brain.