Pyramidal Cell Processing

Pyramidal neurons, also known as pyramidal cells, are neurons with a pyramidal shaped cell body (soma) and two distinct dendritic trees. The basal dendrites emerge from the base and the apical dendrites from the apex of the pyramidal cell body.

The stereotypical dendritic architecture of pyramidal neurons suggests that their structure is preserved to carry out some basic computational function in the nervous system. On the other hand, pyramidal neurons in different brain regions exhibit considerable diversity in structure and function, suggesting that they have evolved to carry out variants of these computational functions. The ability to modulate pyramidal neuron function in response to behavioral state or as a long-term response to prior activation (possibly as a mechanism of learning) are no doubt crucial to proper functioning of the nervous system. The abundance of pyramidal neurons in cortical structures suggests further that their proper function is necessary for cognitive processing, and thus deficits in pyramidal neuron function are likely to lead to cognitive deficits such as those associated with diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease or schizophrenia.


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