Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Neurotransmission (Latin: transmissio = passage, crossing; from transmitto = send, let through), also called synaptic transmission, is an electrical movement within synapses caused by a propagation of nerve impulses. As each nerve cell receives neurotransmitter from the presynaptic neuron, or terminal button, to the postsynaptic neuron, or dendrite, of the second neuron, it sends it back out to several neurons, and they do the same, thus creating a wave of energy until the pulse has made its way across an organ or specific area of neurons.

Nerve impulses are essential for the propagation of signals. These signals are sent to and from the central nervous system via efferent and afferent neurons in order to coordinate smooth, skeletal and cardiac muscles, bodily secretions and organ functions critical for the long-term survival of multicellular vertebrate organisms such as mammals.

Neurons form networks through which nerve impulses travel. Each neuron receives as many as 15,000 connections from other neurons. Neurons do not touch each other; they have contact points called synapses. A neuron transports its information by way of a nerve impulse. When a nerve impulse arrives at the synapse, it releases neurotransmitters, which influence another cell, either in an inhibitory way or in an excitatory way. The next neuron may be connected to many more neurons, and if the total of excitatory influences is more than the inhibitory influences, it will also "fire", that is, it will create a new action potential at its axon hillock, in this way passing on the information to yet another next neuron, or resulting in an experience or an action.

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