As mentioned earlier, the myelin sheaths of the CNS are formed by oligodendrocytes. This process occurs mostly postnatally (after birth). Unlike a Schwann cell, which forms a myelin sheath around only one axon, each oligodendrocyte has extensions, like the tentacles of an octopus, that form myelin sheaths around several axons (fig. 7.8). The myelin sheaths around axons of the CNS give this tissue a white color; areas of the CNS that contain a high concentration of axons thus form the white matter. The gray matter of the CNS is composed of high concentrations of cell bodies and dendrites, which lack myelin sheaths.
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This ebook provides an introductory explanation of the workings of the human body, with an effort to draw connections between the body systems and explain their interdependencies. A framework for the book is homeostasis and how the body maintains balance within each system. This is intended as a first introduction to physiology for a college-level course.