Week 3 – Neurotransmitters
Building up from the information that we learned last week, this week taught us lot of new concepts and interesting facts. We learned about the function and classification of neurotransmitters. What I found most interesting was the fact that neurotransmitters such as acetylcholine provide different functionality in different cells and its effect also depends on the receptor type it binds to (muscarinic and nicotinic) that determine e.g. how fast its effect is exerted on cells.
Acetylcholine was especially interesting due to its effect on both voluntary and involuntary muscles. Its functionality was easily understood by reading its application as neurotoxin. It turns out, many animals and plants that are venomous, use acetylcholinesterase (an enzyme that destroys acetylcholine) as a way to paralyze (destroy too much acetylcholine) or convulsions (delaying the degradation of acetylcholine) in their victims.
We learned that neuropharmacology is of paramount importance in understanding neuroscience. For us, learning through examples (such as the previous paragraph about acetylcholine) strongly aids in understanding the bigger picture as roughly the same mechanisms apply for all neurotransmitters. It is important to understand the micro-level functions of neurotransmitters to continue learning about the macro-level function of the brain.