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Neurotransmitters Types of Neurotransmitters Functions of Neurotransmitters



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According to webspace.ship.edu, neurotransmitters are the chemicals which allow the transmission of signals from one neuron to the next across synapses. A synapse is a very small junction or gap between two neurons, or a muscle and a neuron. Neurons tend to communicate through releasing particular chemicals and this communication occurs through a change in chemical concentration. This then results in a chemical called a neurotransmitter.

There are many different types of neurotransmitters and they each are responsible for precise functions. Neurotransmitters have certain functions that allow the nerve impulses and signals to transmit across the synapse and they can be divided into three separate groups. Peptides, amino acids and monoamines are the three categories that neurotransmitters can be categorised between.

The human body is made up of a variety of different neurotransmitters including endorphins, dopamine, GABA, serotonin, acetylcholine, epinephrine and norepinephrine. These are the most significant types of neurotransmitters but it is important to understand that new types are discovered all of the time. Each of these neurotransmitters has a different function within the body.

Endorphins resemble compounds such as morphine, opium and heroin in their built up structure. This is because the effect they release on the body is very similar to the effect that is created by opioid compounds. Endorphins can considerably minimize pain, stress and promote a strong feeling of serenity and calmness. Some animals are able to hibernate through a slower metabolism, heart rate and respiration when endorphins are released.

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that controls movements of the body through the mechanism of the brain. Parkinson’s disease can be linked to decreased levels of dopamine in the body, and increased levels can be much like the pleasurable emotions related to certain drugs and alcohol. The regulation of enjoyable emotions is down to the dopamine neurotransmitters in the body.

Gamma Amino Butyric Acid, also known as GABA works by slowing down the activity of neurons. This is so that over excitation can be prevented, which can often lead to severe anxiety. GABA is not completely essential; however, low levels of this neurotransmitter can be attached to periods of anxiety disorders.

Serotonin is an essential inhibitory neurotransmitter. It has been discovered to possess the ability to significantly affect moods, emotions and anxiety. Good sleeping patterns, eating patterns and wakefulness are all related to the effects of serotonin. Low levels can be associated to people suffering with depression, disorders and negative thoughts.

Acetylcholine is responsible for the stimulation of muscles and it was in fact the first neurotransmitter to be discovered, in 1921. The motor neutrons in the body are activated by acetylcholine and these then results in controlling the skeletal muscles. Acetylcholine can also work to activate areas of the brain linked to attention, memory, learning and arousal.

Epinephrine is stated as an excitatory neurotransmitter and it is derived from another neurotransmitter called norepinephrine. Its main function is to control attention and focus. Whereas norepinephrine is also very similar, being another excitatory neurotransmitter. High secretion of this neurotransmitter works to raise blood pressure and heart rate.

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