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In biology, a dendrite is a slender, typically branched projection of a nerve cell or neuron, which conducts the electrical stimulation received from other cells through synapses to the body or soma of the cell from which it projects.

Many dendrites convey this stimulation passively, meaning without action potentials and without activation of voltage-gated ion channels. In such dendrites the voltage change that results from stimulation at a synapse may extend both towards and away from the soma. In other dendrites, though an action potential may not arise, nevertheless voltage-gated channels help to propagate excitatory synaptic stimulation. This propagation is efficient only toward the soma due to an uneven distribution of channels along such dendrites.

The structure and branching of a neuron's dendrites strongly influences how it integrates the input from many others, particularly those that input only weakly (more at synapse). This integration is in aspects "temporal"--involving the summation of stimuli that arrive in rapid succession--as well as "spatial"--entailing the aggregation of excitatory and inhibitory inputs from separate branches or "arbors."

Compare axon

In chemistry, a dendrite is a crystal that branches into two parts during growth.

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