Our nervous system is made up of specialized cells called neurons. These cells can talk to each other! They send signals from the central to the peripheral nervous system. But they don’t connect in one long string! Instead, the signals have to go through gaps called synapses. They do this using neurotransmitters!
What Are They?
Neurotransmitters are kind of like chemical messages! They help carry data between two neurons. We need them because neurons send electrical signals down their axons. But between two neurons is a tiny gap or a synapse. Action potentials can’t travel across this gap! So these chemicals help bridge the gap.
How Do They Work?
Neurotransmitters then move to the next neuron. There, they bind to receptors on the neuron! Only specific ones can bind to each type of receptor. It’s like a lock and key! If you have the wrong key, it won’t open the lock. So if you don’t have the correct neurotransmitter, the data won’t send!
What Do They Do?
Inhibitory types do the opposite. They make a response less likely to happen. They cause hyperpolarization to happen! The neuron becomes more negative. This reduces the chance that a signal will send.
Types of Neurotransmitters
Serotonin: This is another happiness related, excitatory neurotransmitter! Aside from well-being, it helps manage our mood and anxiety. Serotonin is also heavily tied to sleep!
Glutamate: This is the most common of these chemicals in our body! Glutamate is an excitatory neurotransmitter that helps us learn and create memories.
Acetylcholine: Another excitatory neurotransmitter, it works in the parasympathetic nervous system. This is the part of the nervous system that works when you’re resting. It helps you save energy and revs up the digestive system!
Other Great Resources
Identifying a Neurotransmitter: https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-a-neurotransmitter-2795394
Types of Neurotransmitters: http://ib.bioninja.com.au/options/option-a-neurobiology-and/a5-neuropharmacology/types-of-neurotransmitters.html
The Chemical Mind – Crash Course: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4N-7AlzK7s