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Describe what neurotransmitters are and what they do

Released by synaptic vesicles, they cross the tiny synaptic space.


What is a Synapse?

Point of communication between nerve cells (or nerve cell + effector)


What’s a receptor site?

Excitatory or inhibitory messages


Where would Acetylcholine be found and what are its effects?

1. Neuromuscular junction
2. Excitatory


Where would Noradrenaline be found and what are its effects?

1. In many regions of the brain (associated with arousal, reward, decision making)

2. In SNS - Excitatory neurotransmitter from post synaptic terminals of sympathetic nerves


Where would Serotonin be found and what are its effects?

1. Important in ENS (Digestive system)
2. Excitatory


Where would dopamine be found and what are its effects?

1. Important neurotransmitter in part of brain responsible for movement and other regions of the brain concerned with reward seeking behaviour

2. Excitatory and Inhibitory


Where are opiates (endorphins) found and what are their effects?

1. Stimulate areas of the brain associated with pleasure in times of stress (causing dopamine release.

2. Opiates interact with endorphin receptors in the brain so they are inhibitory


Brain activity is inhibited in most circumstances.

Where is GABA found and what are its effects?

1. Found in brain and dies down excitement

2. Inhibitory


Where is Glutamate found and what are its effects?

1. Major neurotransmitter in CNS

2. Excitatory



Spinal cord


What is Myasthenia gravis?

- Autoimmune disease

- Post synaptic ACh receptors at NMJ destroyed


What are symptoms of myasthenia gravis?

1. Muscle fatigue

2. Weakness


What treats myasthenia gravis?

1. Acetylcholinesterase inhibitors (prevent breakdown of ACh)


What are SSRIs and what do they do?

1. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors

2. Block reuptake of serotonin at synapse so prolongs the effects of wellbeing (5-HT) and are used as antidepressants (Prozac)


What role does dopamine play in Parkinson’s disease and schizophrenia?

1. In Parkinson’s disease, the cells that make dopamine in the part of the brain responsible for movement are destroyed

2. This results in tremor, stiffness, slow movement, shuffling gait, posture instability

3. Overactivity of dopamine implicated in schizophrenia