Shepherd, Gordon M. Yale University Medical School, New Haven, Connecticut.
Hanson, Phyllis I. Department of Cell Biology and Physiology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri.
- Electrical synapses
- Chemical synapses
- Neuromuscular junction
- Molecular mechanisms
- Central synapses
- Activity-dependent changes
- Drug actions
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
The physiologic mechanisms by which one nerve cell (neuron) influences the activity of an anatomically adjacent neuron with which it is functionally coupled. Brain function depends on interactions of nerve cells with each other and with the gland cells and muscle cells they innervate. The interactions take place at specific sites of contact between cells known as synapses. The synapse is the smallest and most fundamental information-processing unit in the nervous system. By means of different patterns of synaptic connections between neurons, synaptic circuits are constructed during development to carry out the different functional operations of the nervous system. In order to understand nervous function, it is first necessary to understand the mechanism of transmission at a single synapse, and then the varieties of synapses out of which synaptic circuits are formed. See also: Neuron
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