Neuron Communication

Neuron’s communicate through a series of steps which I will guide you through in this blog post!

Firstly, the neuron looks like this:

The process of communication begins with an action potential. The action potential is an electromechanical signal or charge which travels down the axon. This charge is caused by the movements of positive and negative ions. The neuron starts with a resting potential of -70mV. Soon, depolarization occurs and changes the charge to +30mV. Depolarization occurs when a message is sent and stimulates a part of the axon. This causes gateways to open for the positive Na (sodium) ions to enter the axon. Once the sodium enters the axon, the gates close and new doors are opened for the positive K (potassium) ions to exit the axon. This is called repolarization. This causes the charge to return to the regular -70mV charge. However a chain reaction is started and the next segment of the axon starts to depolarize. The action potential then continues to move down the axon.

Now, what happens once the action potential reaches the end of the axon? This is where synapse comes in.

The synapse looks like this:

Once the action potential gets to the end of the neuron, a chemical signal is sent to the next neuron. The signal from the sending neuron’s axon goes to the receiving neuron’s dendrite. The action potential causes the synaptic vesicles to release neurotransmitters into the synaptic gap. The neurotransmitters get through the synaptic gap and then attach to the receptors of the receiving neuron. The neurotransmitters then either, keep the reaction going by stimulating (excitatory) or the stop the reaction by repressing the action potential (inhibitory). This depends on the action of the receptor. Glutamate would cause an excitatory reaction and GABA would cause an inhibitory reaction.