This week we learned about neurotransmitter systems. Neurotransmitters are substances that convey signals between neurons. There is around a hundred different neurotransmitters, but they are categorized to three major classes: amino acids, amines and peptides. The exact chemical reactions that neurotransmitters cause are various and complicated but the primary effects are simple: they either excite or inhibit the postsynaptic cell. Excitatory neurotransmitters make an axon potential in the postsynaptic cell more likely and inhibitory neurotransmitters try to prevent it. A neuron can receive multiple exciting and inhibiting signals at the same time and the sum of these signals determines if the axon potential is initiated or not.
Just so this would not be too easy neurotransmitters can cause secondary cascade effects. These effects are slower and can have multiple steps like a chain reaction. These long chains of second messenger cascades can amplify the signal and affect multiple receivers.
Neurotransmitters are an essential part of brain function. Lack or malfunction of neurotransmitters can lead to mental disorders. It is important to know how neurotransmitters work to understand human brain and help people with disorders. This is definitely an area I would like to study more and get a more practical approach on what can cause malfunction of neurotransmitters and how to heal it.