Week 4, neurotransmitters

This week we’ve studied the neurotransmitter system. It feels like the basics of neurons are coming together. I’m starting have a more complete picture of why neurons are able to do what they do.

It’s always interesting to learn how diseases like Alzheimer’s work. The nervous system is so nuanced and complex that it’s no wonder that when something starts going slightly wrong, the result can be catastrophic. On the other hand it’s great how well it does function in a healthy human.

The relationship between the neurotransmitters and their receptors is also interesting. Being that the receptors are meant to accept certain chemicals, and introducing some other chemicals that are normally not in the human body can be in a way more effective on the receptors than what was originally intended. And when the receptors are activated in an unusual way there can be some powerful physiological effects.

The scientific research on neurotransmitters and their receptors does bear some similarity reverse engineering computer programs. I’ve read a book on how to reverse engineer cars computer chips, and many of those don’t have any manual or anything available. So you have to give it some inputs and see where the change is happening, and hopefully be able to surmise how to change the fueling for example. At least to me feels somewhat similar a method that Dr. Jaffe used in his opiate research that was described in the course book.