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Name for the neurotransmitter cycle?

  1. Oct 31, 2016 #1
    I was wondering if there is an official term for the cycle that neurotransmitters make as they go from presynaptic to postsynaptic neurons and back?

    Perhaps "action potential" or "nerve spike" could work? I am guessing every spike would involve the crossing of the neurotransmitters and then their return back?
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 31, 2016 #2
    It might be reuptake, which I think defines that last stage
  4. Oct 31, 2016 #3
    Thanks for that @CapnGranite, on that note, I am also curious how long that cycle of reuptake would usually last. I am guessing it is very quick. And then, can it just go again right away? Or would there be some "adjustment" period before it goes again.
  5. Oct 31, 2016 #4


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    Sounds like you are referring to something like a combination of the re-uptake of neurotransmitter molecules after they are released and their reuse in synaptic vesicles. Don't know what the whole system might be called. This kind of recycling only occurs with some transmitters. There are many different kinds of neurotransmitter and not all of them are going to work this way. Some are broken down chemically to inactive them (providing a more discrete signal). The breakdown products may get recycled/reutilized. Most classical (first discovered, most studied) neurotransmitters are small molecules, but a lot of newer neurotransmitters are polypeptides or proteins. Not sure what happens to them.

    Action potential (and presumably "nerve spike", which I am not familiar with, but assume its the same thing) would be an inappropriate term for chemical cycling of transmitters. An action potential is a self-propagating change in the electric voltage (or potential) across the bilayer lipid membrane. Its is measured and studied electronically.

    When an action potential reaches a region where synaptic release can occur, it triggers Ca++ to enter the cell (rather than Na+ which occurs in other places). This triggers synaptic vesicles to fuse with the membrane and dump out their contents (neurotransmitters). That's how action potentials and synapse function are related.
  6. Nov 1, 2016 #5
    Thanks @BillTre that was very helpful!
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