Biology

Difference Between Nerve and Neuron

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Main Difference

The main difference between the Nerve and Neuron is that Nerve is the axon bundle that is a structural unit of the nervous system, whereas Neuron is the cell that is a functional unit of the nervous system.

Nerve vs. Neuron

A nerve was first described by the Herophilos in the cranium while observing optic nerve and oculomotor nerve, whereas neuron was first observed by the Santiago Ramón y Cajal in the 19th century. The nerve is considered as the structural unit of the nervous system; on the other hand, a neuron is majorly the functional unit of the nervous system. The nerve is an axon bundle that is covered by the outer connective tissue, while neuron is the independent cell.

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Nerve comprises three layers that are epineurium, perineurium, and endoneurium; on the flip side of the coin, the neuron has three structural features that include cell body, dendrites, and axon. The nerve is the bundle of axons like a cable; on the other side, the neuron is carrying one axon usually. Nerves usually occur in the peripheral nervous system, whereas neurons occur in both the central nervous system (CNS) and peripheral nervous system (PNS).

Nerve serves as the conduction source of signals for transportation; on the other hand, the neuron is the source of the generation of electrical and chemical signals. Nerve plays the role of transmission of signals to other parts of the body; on the flip side, the neuron is the source of conduction of nerve impulses. Nerve include three types that are afferent nerves, efferent nerves, and mixed nerves; on the other side, neuron constitutes the types called sensory neurons, motor neurons, and interneurons.

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Comparison Chart

NerveNeuron
The nerve is the axon bundle that is specifically present in the peripheral nervous system, covered by connective tissues, composed of three major layers, and the structural unit of the nervous system.The neuron is the cell that is present in both the central nervous system and peripheral nervous system, composed of three main structural features and is specifically the functional unit of the nervous system.
Unit Importance for Nervous System
Structural unitFunctional unit
Discovery
By Herophilos during the observation of optic nerves and oculomotor nervesSantiago Ramón y Cajal in 19th century
Structure
Axon bundle in the form of cables covered by connective tissuesAn independent cell
Structural Features
Three layers; epineurium, perineurium, and endoneuriumCell body, dendrites, axon
Major Function
Transmission of nerve impulsesConduction of signals
Occurrence
Only in the peripheral nervous systemIn the peripheral nervous system and central nervous system
Major Types
Afferent nerves, efferent nerves, and mixed nervesSensory neurons, motor neurons, and interneurons
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What is Nerve?

The bundle of nerve fibers is called nerve that is present in the peripheral nervous system. The nerve is an axon bundle, not a cell. It plays the basic function of the transmission of electrical signals in the form of nerve impulses. The nerve carrying signals in the form of electrochemical impulses conduct signals at the speed of 120m/s. There is a large network of nerve fibers that conduct the messages towards the brain by converting the electrical signals to chemical signals.

The nerve is the structural component of the nervous system that plays a role in receiving and respond. The nerve is like the bundle of cables that are involved in response to internal and external stimuli. Herophilos first analyzed the nerves as the optic nerve and oculomotor nerve in the cranium.

If the axons of nerves get damaged, it can be regenerated, but regeneration can be slow in some cases.

Structure of Nerve

Epineurium is the outer connective tissue covering the nerve. The perineurium is the fatty layer below epineurium and then endoneurium. Endoneurium contains endoneurial fluid that is low-protein liquid, protects the molecules to enter from the blood.

Types of Nerves

  • Afferent Nerve Fiber: It plays the role of conduction of signals from the sensory neuron to CNS.
  • Efferent Nerve Fiber: After receiving the signals from motor neurons, the information is then transferred to muscles.
  • Mixed Nerves: These nerves perform the function of the receiver and sender of information.

What is Neuron?

Neuron serves as the functional unit of the nervous system by the conduction of signals through its adapted structure that contains synapses for the transmission of nerve impulses. It is a cell that is composed of three basic structural features that are cell body (also called soma), dendrites around the cell body, and axon.

Santiago Ramón y Cajal first observed the neurons in the 19th century by the method that is now called as double impregnation.

The cell body has the thread-like extensions coming out called dendrites that are extended to about a few hundred micrometers. The function of a neuron is coordinated with its part as dendrites receive the stimuli, then processed it to soma, which transfers the signals to an axon that propagates the signals through the synapses towards the other neuron cell.

Types of Neurons

  • Sensory Neurons: These are the sender of stimulus to the brain and spinal cord in the form of electrochemical signals for the processing of signals.
  • Motor Neuron: These are the receiver of signals from the brain and spinal cord to send it to effector for a response.
  • Interneurons: Interneurons plays the role of connection of the central nervous system with other neurons.

Disorders

Nerves are vital for the sensation, receiving signals, processing of information, transfer to the brain and spinal cord, and then the response by the effector. If the neurons get disorder or damaged, these can cause serious neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Myasthenia Gravis. One of the genetically inherited neurological diseases is Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease.

Key Differences

  1. The nerve was first observed by the Herophilos during the cranium observation in the optic and oculomotor nerves, whereas neuron was first observed by the Santiago Ramón y Cajal in the 19th century
  2. The nerve is the structural unit of the nervous system; on the other hand, the neuron is the functional unit of the nervous system.
  3. The nerve is the axon bundle covered by outer connective tissue; on the flip side, the neuron is the independent cell.
  4. Nerve plays the role of transmission of nerve impulses, while neuron serves for the conduction of signals from electrical to chemical form.
  5. Nerve constitutes the structural features that are epineurium, perineurium, and endoneurium, whereas neuron constitutes the cell body, dendrites, and axon for the signals conduction.
  6. Nerves are specifically found only in the peripheral nervous system; on the other side of the coin, the neuron is found in both the central nervous system and peripheral nervous system.

Conclusion

Nerves play the role of transmission of impulses and are axon bundles, found only in the peripheral nervous system, whereas neurons play the role of signal’s conduction, independent cell, and occurs in both PNS and CNS.

Janet White

Janet White is a writer and blogger for Difference Wiki since 2015. She has a master's degree in science and medical journalism from Boston University. Apart from work, she enjoys exercising, reading, and spending time with her friends and family. Connect with her on Twitter @Janet__White

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