What is Neurotransmission?
Neurotransmission is a process in which signaling molecules are released by a neuron, bind and activate the receptors of the recipient neuron. The releasing and receiving neurons are referred to as the presynaptic and postsynaptic neurons respectively. Neurotransmission allows for communication between two neurons. Iversen (1971), explains that the transmission depends on several factors; the availability of the neurotransmitter, the release of by exocytosis, postsynaptic binding by the neurotransmitter, postsynaptic cell functional response to the neurotransmitter and the final deactivation or removal of the neurotransmitter to prevent a continuous response. This paper seeks to explain the neurotransmission process and the effect of neurotransmitters on the brain.
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Process of Neurotransmission
The first step in neurotransmission is biosynthesis. This involves the synthesis of the neurotransmitter. Synthesis can take place in the cell body, axon or axon terminal of a neuron. Iversen (1971) points out that the neurotransmitter is temporarily stored in storage granules or vesicles at the terminal end of the axon of a neuron. In the case of an action potential, calcium enters the axon terminal inducing the release of the neurotransmitter into the synaptic cleft. The transmitter initiates binding and activates the receptor in the membrane of the postsynaptic neuron. The communication process is complete after the activation (Minami, Takeda, Nishibaba, Takefuta, & Oku, 2001). However, the last step to prevent further eliciting a similar response by the same neurotransmitter involves deactivation of the neurotransmitter. Iversen (1971) argues that the neurotransmitter can be taken back to the parent terminal for recycling and reuse purposes or it can be degraded and removed. Destroying of the neurotransmitters is done by enzymes.
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Effect of Neurotransmitters on the Brain
The brain activities primarily rely on the process of neurotransmission; the communications between neurons triggers electric impulses and chemical signals to different parts of the brain and the rest of the nervous system control most of the activities of a person. Iversen (1971) explains that most mental problems are caused by a malfunction of the neurotransmission processes. The brain controls movement; this is initiated in neurons that communicate through electrical signals, therefore, abnormal electric signals cause undefined movements or tremors such as those found in Parkinson’s disease (Minami, Takeda, Nishibaba, Takefuta, & Oku, 2001).
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