No brain no gain (NBE-E4210, week 3)

Week 3

Lecture 3 focused on synaptic transmission. This topic was somewhat familiar to us all beforehand but during the lecture we learned about the concepts in a more detailed way. We thought that it was good that the lecture started with a revision of a chemical synapse because it refreshed our minds and made us remember it better: an action potential causes calcium influx to the presynaptic cell, calcium makes a vesicle release its neurotransmitter into the synaptic cleft and the neurotransmitter causes the postsynaptic cell to depolarize.

The fusion of a vesicle to a membrane was completely new information to us. It was also interesting to learn that the synapse could be excitatory or inhibitory based on the type of a neuron and therefore the type of neurotransmitter, receptor and ion channel to be opened. Another new thing to us was that dendrites are mostly passive cables and that the length of them affects the strength of a potential. Although we had heard about electrical synapses and gap junctions, they had never been explained as thoroughly a chemical synapse, so it was nice to learn about them more deeply.

All and all the lecture was very eye opening and fascinating. There are many different types of neurons, and all those types can have different properties, and therefore work specifically the way they do. It is difficult to even try to imagine how complicated and detailed the human body is, but this lecture helped us to come a little closer to understanding how bigger processes build from the tiniest processes and differences in them.