Welcome to the synapse

One thing that this week’s lecture made us question was our understanding of the definition of a synapse. We thought that it could be the general interface between two neurons where transmission of signal occurs, or that it could be just another term for axon terminal. From the lecture we gathered that it could actually be a more defined list of elements from both the axon terminal, the post synaptic neuron, and the space between them (the synaptic cleft).

It was interesting to learn that one way of classifying the synapses is based on the symmetry of the membrane differentiations (which by the way was not a term we have ever heard before). We are excited what functional implications this classification have. Another new term for us was “PV-cell”. We have heard of interneurons before, are all interneurons PV-cells? Or are all PV-cells interneurons?

When considering synaptic transmission, it’s curious to observe the difference between the axonal and dentritic signal transmission. We are wondering why the dentritic transmission seems to be neither passive nor active. Also, what does this mean for long dentrites? Can the length of a dendrite encode information e.g. information which are closer to each other could be regarded as more important, given that short dentritic connections would forward the signal more effectively? Why have long dendrites versus just having longer branches on the axons?

As per usual, there was something on the lecture slides that brought to mind a nice YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o1tj2zJ2Wvg. Enjoy!