ALPHABETICAL BRAIN™ VOCABULARY
Brain Idea #7 - October 11, 2018
WHAT ARE YOUR SYNAPSES?
AND WHY ARE THEY SO IMPORTANT?
The function of your synapses is to make possible the transmission of the biochemical currents (electrochemical signals/impulses) all around your brain and also up and down your body.
Your synapses are the hundreds of trillions of biochemical junctions (switches) that allow the 100-200 billion neurons in your brain and nervous system to send signals or electrochemical impulses to and from your neurons, muscles, senses, and bodily organs, which ultimately makes possible your consciousness.
Your brain's signaling process is caused by the way your neurons and your synapses are connected at the microscopic quantum level of human existence by a complicated potentiation process. Your memories are also formed by the same potentiation process because of the phenomenal process as known as synaptic plasticity.
"Postsynaptic potentials are changes in the membrane potential of the postsynaptic terminal of a chemical synapse. Postsynaptic potentials are graded potentials, and should not be confused with action potentials although their function is to initiate or inhibit action potentials. They are caused by the presynaptic neuron releasing neurotransmitters from the terminal bouton at the end of an axon into the synaptic cleft." (Source = Wikipedia)
"The neurotransmitters bind to receptors on the postsynaptic terminal, which may be a neuron or a muscle cell in the case of a neuromuscular junction. These are collectively referred to as postsynaptic receptors, since they are on the membrane of the postsynaptic cell." (Source = Wikipedia)
"One way receptors can react to being bound by a neurotransmitter is to open or close an ion channel, allowing ions to enter or leave the cell. It is these ions that alter the membrane potential. Ions are subject to two main forces, diffusion and electrostatic repulsion. Ions will tend towards their equilibrium potential, which is the state where the diffusion force cancels out the force of electrostatic repulsion. When a membrane is at its equilibrium potential, there is no longer a net movement of ions. Two important equations that can determine membrane potential differences based on ion concentrations are the Nernst Equation and the Goldman Equation." (Source = Wikipedia and other online resources mashed together)
During the signaling process, sodium and potassium molecules exchange charged ions through many vesicles at synaptic clefts (gaps) in the membranes of the thousands of synapses that attach to thousands of neurons or the attachment centers of bodily organs.
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