What is a SYNAPSE?

The junction between a neuron and any other cell is termed a synapse.  In the cerebral cortex, the main information–processing tissue of the brain, there are as many as 100 trillion synapses. Simply, the more synaptic contact a neuron has the greater the amount of information it is able to process at any given time.  There two different types of synapses: Chemical synapses and electrical synapses. In a chemical synapse, the presynaptic neuron releases a neurotransmitter to stimulate the post synaptic cell. In the neuromuscular junction, the synapse between a neuron and skeletal muscle fiber, the presynaptic neuron releases acetylcholine as a neurotransmitter, which reacts with the post synaptic muscle fiber resulting in muscle contraction. In an electrical synapse, adjacent cells are joined by gap junctions. Instead of releasing a neurotransmitter to activate the post synaptic cell,  ions diffuse from the presynaptic cell to the postsynaptic cell. This is a quick transmission of signal from one cell to the next.



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