I've read from a book that

axon terminals make connections on target cells.

I understand it. but at another line they said that

Neuron-to-neuron connections are made onto the dendrites and cell bodies of other neurons. These connections, known as synapses.

Now I do not understand that if axon terminals make connection with target cells or dendrites make connection with target cells? Please help me to understand this! Thanks..

  • 2
    What book are you referring to?
    – John
    Commented Aug 11, 2016 at 7:25

2 Answers 2


If you have a look at one of the most famous reference book in neuroscience "Principles of neural science" by Kandel (Fifth Edition), on page 22:

There is this figure:

enter image description here

And here is the description of the figure (extracts):

Most neurons in the vertebrate nervous system have several main features in common. The cell body contains the nucleus, the storehouse of genetic information, and gives rise to two types of cell processes: axons and dendrites. Axons are the transmitting element of neurons; they vary greatly in length, some extending more than 2 m within the body (...) The action potential, the cell’s conducting signal, is initiated at the initial segment of the axon and propagates to the synapse, the site at which signals flow from one neuron to another. Branches of the axon of the presynaptic neuron transmit signals to the postsynaptic cell. The branches of a single axon may form synapses with as many as 1,000 postsynaptic neurons. The apical and basal dendrites together with the cell body are the input elements of the neuron, receiving signals from other neurons.

So axons connect with target neuronal cells, either on the dendrites or the soma, to propagate the action potential.


Well, the synapse is made of:

  • the presynaptic ending (membrane, terminal): which is actually the axon terminal and here is where we find the neurotransmitters.
  • the postsynaptic ending (membrane, terminal): which could be a dendrite, an axon or a cell body, and here we find receptors for those neurotransmitters released from the axon terminal.

Between the two membranes there is a gap or space called synaptic cleft. I hope this is clear for you.

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