Synapse Facts



  • Synapses are the tiny gaps between nerve cells.
  • When a nerve signal goes from one nerve cell to another, it must be transmitted (sent) across the synapse by special chemicals called neurotransmitters.
  • Droplets of neurotransmitter are released into the synapse whenever a nerve signal arrives.
  • As the droplets of neurotransmitter lock on to the receiving nerve’s receptors, they fire the signal onwards.
  • Each receptor site on a nerve-ending only reacts to certain neurotransmitters. Others have no effect.
  • Sometimes several signals must arrive before enough neurotransmitter is released to fire the receiving nerve.
  • More than 40 neurotransmitter chemicals have been identified.
  • Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that works in the parts of the brain that control movement and learning. Parkinson’s disease may develop when the nerves that produce dopamine break down.
  • Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is linked to sleeping and waking up, and also to your mood.
  • Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter that may be involved in memory, and also in the nerves that control muscle movement.