This activity is called Build Your Network. In your brain, special cells called neurons connect to one another. Groups of these neurons form complicated networks, sending signals through their connections to pass lots of information through your brain. A single neuron is made of four parts. The cell body is roughly a round shape. Dendrites, which look like small hairs, surround most of the cell body. The axon is a long, tail-like shape that comes out of the cell body on one side. Finally, axon terminals look like little nubs at the end of the axon. Each part has an important role. Dendrites receive information. The cell body combines information from different dendrites. The axon moves the information along the cell. Information then jumps from one neuron’s axon terminals to the next neuron’s dendrites. You can hear more about this in the Science Behind It section. In the Build Your Network activity, the user is shown a blank rectangle. Blue neuron images can be added to the blank rectangle. When one neuron’s axon terminal connects properly to another neuron’s dendrites, an animation appears signaling to the user that a connection was made. When the user clicks or taps the first neuron in the series, a signal, which is represented by a bright yellow color, appears to travel from the dendrites of the first neuron through to the axon terminals of the last neuron. This represents information traveling through a neural network. Two neurons connected form a simple network. Multiple neurons can be connected in various patterns, including a loop, to form more complicated networks.
Neurons Are Great Communicators

Information travels through the brain along special cells called neurons. Each part of the neuron has an important role. Dendrites, the “hairs” surrounding the cell body, receive information. The cell body combines information from different dendrites. The long, tail-like axon moves the message along. Information “jumps” to the next neuron from the axon terminals.

It takes both electrical and chemical signals for your brain to send and receive information. First, chemicals called neurotransmitters “carry” incoming messages across the gap between two neurons. This rush of chemicals triggers the receiving neuron to fire off an electrical signal that moves the message along the cell. Neurotransmitters at the end of the neuron then pass the message on to the next cell.

Every time you learn something, you form connections between neurons. Over time, important neural connections strengthen, while less-used pathways fade away. We create new neurons and new pathways between neurons throughout our lives.