Today’s lecture topic was the chapter 5 – Synaptic Transmission – of the book “Neuroscience: Exploring the Brain (2015)” and we followed the book closely, going through most of the figures in this chapter and having them explained by the professors.
Synaptic transmission is a complex topic since all the operations of the nervous system (action of psychoactive drugs, the cause of mental disorders, the neural bases of learning and memory, for example) can’t be understood without knowledge of it.
In this lecture the mechanisms and details of synapses were discussed. We started with the basics – for example, by defining gap junctions, the direct openings between two cells, or discussing their structure – proceeding then to more complex issues.
We discussed the different types of synapses (electrical or chemical). Both have their roles but chemical synapses – when chemical neurotransmitters transfer information from one neuron to another at the synapse – cover the majority of synapses in the brain, which is the reason why the lecture was focused on chemical synapses from this moment on.
Something interesting and to think about is the fact that we still don’t know a lot about all the molecules involved in synaptic transmission. Here is the Box 5.3 from the book where we can learn more about it:
Exercises Class 25.09
During this week’s exercise session, we had the opportunity to do a 3D model of a brain with playdough. It was an interesting way to learn the different parts of the brain, since we were listening the teacher’s explanations and learning while sculpting the different parts of the brain at the same time.