What is a Synapse?

While enjoying a little face-to-face with some friends a few days ago, our conversation (not unusual) turned to politics and America’s upcoming election.

And of course with South Dakota being as bright a shade of red as a shade of red can be, no one in the group was shy about bashing Obama, to include (yours truly).

And of course since the majority of the group was aware that I write a daily blog, my friends usually expect me to provide them with something that they didn’t already know? Albeit the community’s population is only 4,565, ..to my knowledge none of the residence here were plucked from a pumpkin patch.

Nevertheless, there is the occasional individual who may have (in his youth) ..spent more time with a head of cabbage than one might consider appropriate? As I was asked by a young fellow in his mid-40s,  ..why I write a Blog?

And of course, ..being that, ..at 70, ..the only “quick” thing I have left in my repertoire is my wit, ..I promptly replied; “Because my synapses haven’t quit firing yet.” Which of course promptly got me; “What the hell in a synapse?

     Synapse Firing

According to Webster: syn·apse, The junction across which a nerve impulse passes from an axon terminal to a neuron, a muscle cell, or a gland cell.

In the nervous system, a synapse is a structure that permits a neuron to pass an electrical or chemical signal to another cell (neural or otherwise). Santiago Ramón y Cajal proposed that neurons are not continuous throughout the body, yet still communicate with each other, an idea known as the neuron doctrine.. The word “synapse” comes from “synaptein”, which Sir Charles Scott Sherrington and colleagues coined from the Greek “syn-” (“together”) and “haptein” (“to clasp”).

Synapses are essential to neuronal function: neurons are cells that are specialized to pass signals to individual target cells, and synapses are the means by which they do so. At a synapse, the plasma membrane of the signal-passing neuron (the presynaptic neuron) comes into close apposition with the membrane of the target (postsynaptic) cell. Both the presynaptic and postsynaptic sites contain extensive arrays of molecular machinery that link the two membranes together and carry out the signaling process.

 

In many synapses, the presynaptic part is located on an axon, but some presynaptic sites are located on a dendrite or soma. Astrocytes also exchange information with the synaptic neurons, responding to synaptic activity and, in turn, regulating synaptic transmission.

 

Synapses Interfacing

 There are two fundamentally different types of synapses:

In a chemical synapse, the presynaptic neuron releases a chemical called a neurotransmitter that binds to receptors located in the postsynaptic cell, usually embedded in the plasma membrane. The neurotransmitter may initiate an electrical response or a secondary messenger pathway that may either excite or inhibit the postsynaptic neuron.

In an electrical synapse, the presynaptic and postsynaptic cell membranes are connected by special channels called gap junctions that are capable of passing electric current, causing voltage changes in the presynaptic cell to induce voltage changes in the postsynaptic cell. The main advantage of an electrical synapse is the rapid transfer of signals from one cell to the next.

Synaptic communication is distinct from ephaptic coupling, in which communication between neurons occurs via indirect electric fields. (Source, Wikipedia).

And thus concludes our science lesson for today…

Question: Why do I present (stuff) like this on my Blog?

Simple: Because I had occasion to cross paths with an individual that didn’t know what a Synapse was.

Question: So why is it important that everyone knows what a Synapse is?

Stepping out of bounds for a moment and answering a question with a question…

Question: Why is it important to teach the child to walk, and/or, ..why is it important to teach a child to talk?

Answer: Because, (at least in my opinion) it is important, (in order for an individual to be competent to make an informed decision,) ..an individual must first be informed.

A task, that due to the fact (at least in my opinion) America’s colleges and universities are failing their responsibility. So I have taken it upon myself, (yours truly) ..a (bona fide) ..high school dropout with (credentials) from the “School of Hard Knocks,: ..to include (regret) ..that I didn’t stay in school and do it right.

 

Someone in America has to tell the truth, ..so why not me?

 

Barack Obama ..(in my humble opinion) ..is not an asset to America, ..the world, ..or the human race.

Think about it, I’ll be back tomorrow

Crusader Rabbit…

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