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What Is a Synapse?

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The Structure of a Synapse

Image from the Wikimedia Commons
Question: What Is a Synapse?
Answer:

A synapse is a small gap at the end of a neuron that allows information to pass from one neuron to the next. Synapses are found where nerve cells connects with other nerve cells as well as where nerve cells connect with muscles and glands.

Synapses are composed of three main parts:

  • The presynaptic ending that contains neurotransmitters
  • The synaptic cleft between the two nerve cells
  • The postsynaptic ending that contains receptor sites

An electrical impulse travels down the axon of a neuron, and then triggers the release of neurotransmitters. These chemical messengers cross the synaptic cleft and connect with receptor sites in the next nerve cell, triggering an electrical impulse known as an action potential.

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