We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What are Ganglion Cells?

By T. Carrier
Updated Feb 02, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Ganglion cells are the cells comprising masses of nerve tissues in the body. These masses are known as ganglia. The cells themselves consist of axon and dendrite structures that send and receive nerve impulses. The two most common types of ganglion cells are found within the adrenal glands and within the eye’s retina, although cells can also be found in other parts of the nervous system. These cells help transmit information throughout the body.

The adrenal gland’s cells are found specifically in the adrenal medulla, a portion of the gland that distributes the hormones norepinephrine and epinephrine into the bloodstream. These hormones direct the body when it is active or under stress, increasing heart rate, raising blood pressure, and so forth. These cells aid in these hormones’ release, so they play an important role in the body’s system of "fight or flight."

A retinal ganglion cell comprises the other main category of these cells. These cells serve as the mediator between the eye and the brain. Retinal cells collect information from the eye’s rods and cones and transmit this information to different regions of the brain via optical nerves. Various types of retinal cells address differing kinds of information, such as the amount of color and contrast in images. Types include midget cells, parasol cells, bistratified cells, and photosensitive cells.

Ganglion cells are also distributed throughout the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems, areas that control the body in rest and in activity, respectively. Most parasympathetic cells, such as the adrenal cells, are located near organs, while sympathetic cells rest around the spinal cord. The parasympathetic cells function much the same as other ganglion cells in transmitting information throughout the body. In addition, the spinal ganglia relay information gained from the senses to the brain through sensory neurons. Clusters of ganglia called a plexus often work together to perform functions.

Although these cells are usually found in the peripheral nervous system outside the brain and spinal cord, some of these neurons are located inside the brain. Basal cells share connections with the brain stem, the thalamus and the cerebral cortex. As such, the cells play an important part in nearly every brain function from learning to body movement.

Ganglion cells populate the human body by the millions. These tiny neurons have been the source of numerous Nobel Prize studies. In the body, they are the conductors and the cornerstones of the nervous system.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By umbra21 — On Oct 28, 2011

@KoiwiGal - It's interesting because originally they assumed that that part of the eye's anatomy would be the most sensitive, because it's where all the ganglion cells converge as the optic nerve.

It wasn't until they "discovered" the blind spot and realized how it corresponded to the anatomy of the eye that they figured it out.

Squids and things like that don't have that blind spot either, because they evolved eyes separately from invertebrates.

I think that's really interesting, that it was possible not to have this weak spot, but that the flaw just kept getting passed down.

By KoiwiGal — On Oct 28, 2011

I read once that the retinal ganglion cells are unique because they are basically a part of the brain that is practically exposed.

Ganglion cells of the eye are attached to the optic nerve which is what creates the "blind spot" in your eye.

If you want a demonstration of the blind spot there are lots of ways to see it online, but essentially it's a point where no information comes into your eye, and where the brain compensates by guessing at what is there so you don't notice it.

The ganglion cells are there to help process the visual information you're receiving, so it's kind of ironic that in that one part of the eye they actually block information from being received.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.