Synapses are bulbous structures where two neurons communicate. Neurotransmitter molecules released from pre-synaptic terminal of one neuron diffuse to the postsynaptic terminal on the other, binding to receptors that cause propagation of the nerve impulse. The highly complex structures of the pre-and postsynaptic regions are beginning to be revealed at a molecular level, as are the trafficking mechanisms that transport vesicles containing neurotransmitters. Moreover, the role of long-term potentiation and depression of synaptic transmission as the basis of learning and memory is increasingly appreciated. Research in this area thus impacts our understanding of cell and developmental biology, neurobiology, and cognition.
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