Home > Health, Life, Science > Synapses, neurotransmitters, axons, neurons, …

Synapses, neurotransmitters, axons, neurons, …

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/3/30/Chemical_synapse_schema_cropped.jpg/481px-Chemical_synapse_schema_cropped.jpgI liked this very illustrative diagram of how signals are transmitted between neurons in the brain. It’s incredibly amazing.

We start with electrochemical signals (or chemical potential) from one neuron (top right of figure).

The signal moves along an axon. (A tube-like structure.)

The axon branches out into several parts that attach to the next neuron or to its dendrites (which are like little trees emanating from neurons).

When the signal arrives near the end terminal junction it creates or releases ionized calcium Ca+.

These ions trigger neurotransmitters from little blobs called vesicles (which are like bubbles containing the neurotransmitters).

These neurotransmitters move out of the end of the axon, thru a region called the synaptic cleft, and into the channel receptors which are on the other neuron.

This leads to the transmission of the electrochemical signals into the next neuron.

That’s it.

I find this kind of stuff amazing. One piece of knowledge to excite our synapses!
My sources are the Encyclopedia Britannica article on “Synapses” and a wiki entry.
One book I thought of getting is the shortest book on the brain I could find, and its reviews look pretty good. It is:
The Brain, a very short introduction, by Michael O’Shea, Oxford University Press, 2005.

I downloaded a Kindle sample and found the first chapter a delightful read. So I’m thinking of getting it. A more advanced book is that by Nobel Prizer Dr Eric Kandel, In Search of Memory (he was invited to a Charlie Rose special on the brain).

Categories: Health, Life, Science
  1. December 27, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    The brain is fascinating, but it’s also highly obfuscated. That’s what happens when it’s developed over billions of years. It’s like building a PC by starting off with an 8086 chip and motherboard and just adding on more and more circuitry, leaving the old processor there, which I guess would be the equivalent of the brain stem.

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