Dendrites are projections that typically originate from the cell body of neurons and are the main site for incoming synaptic inputs. Their function is largely unknown. But there is now clear-cut evidence that, in the auditory brain stem, dendrites enrich the computational power of neurons.
Why is the brain built not from spherical neurons, but from neurons that bear elaborate dendritic trees? These exquisite structures have a different morphology in different parts of the brain (Fig. 1); they are the main receptive region for synaptic inputs from other neurons and (in the periphery) they receive direct input from the sensory system involved. We have long been acquainted with the many faces of dendrites, and with new optical techniques have started to probe into the details of their physiology