#2 Action potential and synaptic transmission

In this week we learned about how action potential forms and is conducted in neurons, and how synaptic transmission works. The basic principle of an action potential and synapses were pretty easy to understand, but there is much more detailed information about them to understand than just the basics.

One thing that come to our mind when reading the book, was that there was only little that was said about the sodium-potassium pump. We recall from high school books, that this was of a greater importance in action potential. Many of the other things in the course book were familiar to us already also from high school biology books but still there was a lot of new additional information to this. For example the details of quantal release of neurotransmitters were quite new to us.

Interesting facts about these topic were all the medicines, that can be used to block action potential either in axons or in synapses. For example, we knew in practice that puffer fishes are really poisonous, but we didn’t know it was due to tetrodotoxin. Tetrodotoxin is a poison, that blocks the sodium channels in neurons and prevents action potential to be transmitted by this way.

Posted by Rosa Penttinen

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#1 Neurons, glias and membrane potentials

This week we learned about the basics of neural cells; the structure and function of neurons, types of glia cells and how the membrane potential forms and is maintained.

While reading the course book, we noticed that the first two chapters were mainly repetition from high school biology books. However there were also new additional information to what we already knew, for example information about the classification of neuronal structures and the types of glia cells. The most interesting part for us was to learn ┬ámore specific facts about the axons. We didn’t know that the axons is divided into multiple parts like axon hillock and axon proper. Also the composition of the cytoplasm in the axon differs from that in the soma.

Interesting facts we learned that surprised us were for example the fact that 70 % of brains energy is consumed in the function of sodium-potassium pumps. Also the book stated that the spines in the dendrites are little researched and there could be some interesting discoveries in this field of study. As an example, it is already known that they link to Alzheimer’s disease.

Questions that arise in to our minds were how the action potential is generated and how the synapse works in detail. However these questions will probably be answered later during the course. We are waiting eagerly to know more about the function of the brain and diseases that result from abnormalities of the structure and function of the brain.

 

Posted by Rosa Penttinen

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