How Neurons Communicate: A Detailed Introduction (BSP 8)


When I started preparing for this week's episode I realized that before I could discuss neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) I would need to discuss some basic information about how neurons work. Thus this episode is rather long and technical, but hopefully understandable to those who are new to the field. I am including more detailed show notes than I usually do, along with the approximate times for the main sections, in case there is a particular topic you want to go back and review.

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The main source for this episode was the textbook, From Neuron to Brain: A Cellular and Molecular Approach to the Function of the Nervous System, Fourth Edition (2001)

Topic Outline:

2:39-11:33 Neuronal signaling-the basics of electrical and chemical signaling types of signaling-electrical and chemical introducing the synapse the importance of membrane proteins

11:55 - 13:03   A bried discussion of how the brain differs from a  digital computer

13:3 3-13:50   Definition of neurotransmitters-

13:56 -22:10   How neurotransmitters interact with receptors in the synapse

-direct and indirect  chemical synapses-why they are important

-neuromuscular junction-an example of a direct chemical synapse

-the importance of synaptic delay

-the role of second messengers in indirect chemical synapses

-release and recycling of neurotransmitters

22:25 -29:42 Types of Neurotransmitters and how they work-with examples

-how neuropeptides differ from low molecular weight neurotransmitters

-a little about how drugs work

29:58 - 41:54  How Neurotransmitters function in the Central Nervous System-with examples

-Glutamate is the key excitatory neurotransmitter in the brain

-an aside about Nutrasweet™ (30:33)

-glycine and GABA are inhibitatory

-acetycholine (33:32-34:34)

-discussion of Molecules of Emotion by Candace Pert (35:30-36:55)



-dopamine and Parkinson's disease

42:07 - 43:36  Closing Summary