Myelinated nerves, light micrograph

Myelinated nerves, light micrograph

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Credit: ASTRID & HANNS-FRIEDER MICHLER/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Myelinated nerves. Light micrograph of a longitudinal section through myelinated nerve fibres. Myelin (dark brown) is an insulating fatty layer that surrounds nerve fibres (axons, light brown), increasing the speed at which nerve impulses travel. It is formed when Schwann cells wrap around the fibre, depositing layers of myelin between each coil. At varying intervals along the length of the fibre are gaps, called nodes of Ranvier (centre right and left). Nerve impulses, travelling along the axon as electrical action potentials, jump from node to node in a process known as saltatory conduction.

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