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What advantages does a neuron with multiple dendrites have, as opposed to one with fewer dendrites?

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  • $\begingroup$ In terms of computational power? $\endgroup$ – Seanny123 Jan 19 '16 at 23:47
  • $\begingroup$ more than one dendrite helps to take in more than one information and helps your body process information faster $\endgroup$ – user17137 Sep 30 '17 at 8:32
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More dendritic input makes a neuron more suitable as an integrator. The more dendrites a neuron has, however, the less faithful it will transmit a single incoming signal, as other incoming input may interfere with transmission. Hence, a neuron with a single dendrite will be better suited to faithfully relay incoming signals.

Among the most faithful neurons are the cone bipolar cells in the central part of the retina, who receive a single input and transmit a single output (Purves et al., 2001) via a single axon to the retinal ganglion cell who's axons make up the optic nerve, while on the other end of the spectrum there are, e.g., the Purkinje cells in the cerebellum that can receive input from as many as 80,000 fibers (Konnerth et. al, 1998).

References
- Konnerth et. al, PNAS (1998); 87: 2662-5
- Purves et al. (eds.), editors. Neuroscience. 2nd ed. Sunderland (MA): Sinauer Associates (2001) Functional Specialization of the Rod and Cone Systems

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  • $\begingroup$ I thought lateral inhibition was due to inhibitory input to the bipolar cells, making them not perfectly faithful. I was always taught that the spherical bushy cell in the auditory system was the most faithful, but then again, I am an auditory person taught by auditory people. $\endgroup$ – StrongBad Oct 1 '17 at 14:15
  • $\begingroup$ @StrongBad - I don't claim bipolars are the most faithful - I say 'among the most faithful...' so I guess I'm on the side side of things. $\endgroup$ – AliceD Oct 8 '17 at 18:41

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