At the synapse between two neurons, neurotransmitters are released from the axon terminal of one neuron, which then bind to receptors on the dendrites or cell body of the other neuron. This binding causes changes in the ion channels of the receiving neuron’s membrane, resulting in an electrical signal called an action potential.
Once the neurotransmitter has been released into the synapse, it can either bind to a receptor on the receiving neuron and cause an electrical signal or be taken back up into the presynaptic neuron through a process called reuptake. The amount of neurotransmitter released into the synapse, and the number of receptors on the receiving neuron, determine the strength of the synaptic connection between the two neurons.
The process of transmission at the synapse is essential for communication between neurons and allows for the integration and processing of information in the nervous system. Dysfunctions in synaptic transmission are associated with various neurological and psychiatric disorders, including depression, schizophrenia, and Alzheimer’s disease.