Lecture 2 thoughts

This week we covered Chapter 4 (The action potential) in the lecture and tomorrow’s quiz will be about Chapter 5 (Synaptic transmission). I really noticed the change from last week’s topics as things got somehow more complicated. I have studied biology in high school which made studying easier during the first week as I remembered most of the things from the biology courses. The action potential was somewhat familiar to me but after reading the fourth chapter from the coursebook, I understood how little I knew about it before. The complexity of an action potential and its multiple different stages got me interested. I found the effects of toxins in sodium channels and local anesthesia especially fascinating. I feel like it’s nice to understand what actually happens on the micro-scale if you happen to get some toxins in your body.

In Chapter 5 I enjoyed reading about toxins that attack the chemical synaptic transmission that occurs at the neuromuscular junction. I have always wondered how botulinum toxins affect humans, although I have known that they are very dangerous. When I was little I was kind of hysterical about canned foods even though I know that botulinum toxins are rare, especially in Finland.

The principles of synaptic integration in Chapter 5 were a totally new topic to me. Synaptic integration is the process by which multiple synaptic potentials combine within one post-synaptic neuron. I found it quite challenging to understand as there were many new words and abbreviations which I had to re-read a couple of times. Also, I had to google what EPSP means (excitatory postsynaptic potential) as it was never cleared in the book.

In addition to reading, I completed the first exercise set for this course. I found the exercises pretty easy but some of the questions were maybe too comprehensive. It was not clear to me, how elaborate answers were needed.