Chapter Writing: Answers to Questions Neurons

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[. . .] A synapse consists of three integral parts. These are; the dendrite, the synaptic cleft, and the axon terminal.

The Release of Neurotransmitters: In essence, it is the advance of chemicals (neurotransmitters) across a synapse that makes it possible for information communication between across neurons possible. On crossing the synapse, neurotransmitters could be received at a receptor by the succeeding neuron.

The Activation of the Postsynaptic Receptor: The postsynaptic receptor comes by as a consequence of the association between a neurotransmitter and the extracellular recognition site. The resulting intermediate molecule’s activation causes reactions of an enzymatic nature that either close or open ion channels that could be found elsewhere, i.e. on the membrane of the cell.

The Postsynaptic Potential: The postsynaptic potential, in basic terms, has got to do with “the change in the membrane potential of a neuron that has received stimulation from another neuron” (Bernstein, Pooley, Cohen, Gouldthrop, Provost, Craney, 2017, p. 82). As the authors further point out, the change could either enhance or limit the ability of the cell to fire.

The Regulation of Effects of Neurotransmitters: In the absence of neurotransmitters, neurotransmission would not occur, and hence no signals would be transmitted across neurons. Upon their diffusion across what is referred to as the synaptic cleft, neurotransmitters attach to the relevant receptors, i.e. postsynaptic receptor. In the event that the said attachment or binding fails to take place, neurotransmitters are either ‘reuptaked’ (readmitted into the presynaptic neuron) or metabolized by enzymes. Today, there are over one hundred neurotransmitters that have been distinctly identified. These include, but they are not limited to, polypeptides and simple amines (Bath-Hextall, Lymn, Knaggs, and Bowskill, 2011).

Question 4

Below is a timeline that highlights not only the history, but also the biological roots of behavioral neuroscience.

It is important to note, from the onset, that the biological roots of behavioral neuroscience spread to antiquity. In the ancient cultures, specifically the Chinese, Indian, as well as Egyptian cultures, the center of emotions and thought was believed to be the heart. It was not until 460 – 370 B.C. that some like Hippocrates questioned the widely held view and affirmed that the brain was the vessel housing emotions and thoughts.

1600s: Descartes was instrumental in the formulation of various viewpoints on cognitive functioning during this period. He also contributed immensely towards the understanding of the function and structure of the brain.

1870s: thanks to efforts by Gustav Fritsch, a German physiologist, the primary motor cortex region of the brain and the mechanism involved in muscular contractions begun to be understood. It was also during this period that Ramon y Cajal formulated the neuron doctrine.

1920s: The role and nature of neurotransmitters begun to be understood, thanks to Otto Loewi’s experimentation with frogs.

1950s: It is important to note that “the period of the 1950s was an especially rich time of discovery regarding how cognitive functions were organized in the brain” (Koob, Le Moal, and Thompson, 2010, p. 39). It was also during this period that Wilder Penfield attempted to map cortical area functions. Penfield was able to successfully conduct somatosensory cortex mapping amongst patients of neurosurgery.

1970s: Human memory and issues to do with impairment of the same begun to be well understood after Mishkin developed an approach for subjecting monkeys to memory tests so as to identify the most relevant features.

1980s: it was not until the 80s that such terms as behavioral and cognitive neuroscience gained prominence, especially with the publication of the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience in the late 80s.


Alters, S. (2000). Biology: Understanding Life (3rd ed.). Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

Bath-Hextall, F., Lymn, J., Knaggs, R. & Bowskill, D. (2011). The New Prescriber: An Integrated Approach to Medical and Non-medical Prescribing. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons.

Bernstein, D.A., Pooley, J.A., Cohen, L., Gouldthrop, B., Provost, S., Craney, J. (2017). Psychology. Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning.

Koob, G., Le… [END OF PREVIEW]

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