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Neurotransmitters are chemicals that are used to relay, amplify and modulate signals between a neuron and another cell. According to the prevailing beliefs of the 1960s, a chemical can be classified as a neurotransmitter if it meets the following conditions:
Types of neurotransmitters
Some more precise divisions are as follows:
The major "workhorse" neurotransmitters of the brain are glutamic acid (=glutamate) and GABA.
Some examples of neurotransmitter action:
It is important to appreciate that it is the receptor that dictates the neurotransmitter's effect
Neurons expressing certain types of neurotransmitters sometimes form distinct systems, where activation of the system causes effects in large volumes of the brain, called volume transmission.
Drugs targeting the neurotransmitter of such systems affects the whole system, and explains the mode of action of many drugs;
Diseases may affect specific neurotransmitter systems. For example, Parkinson's disease is at least in part related to failure of dopaminergic cells in deep-brain nuclei, for example the substantia nigra. Treatments potentiating the effect of dopamine precursors have been proposed and effected, with moderate success.
A brief comparison of the major neurotransmitter systems follows:
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Neurotransmitter". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|