How does synaptic transmission work?


It’s part of my psychology course (I find the subject interesting but absolutely despise the biology parts) and I just can’t seem to understand it. Like, I’ve had several lessons on it and I’ve watched the same videos a bunch of times, but my brain just doesn’t seem to be processing what I’m learning.

Can anyone here who knows what they’re talking about explain to me in simple terms what the process is?

In: 1

Meh, it’s hard to get around the biology when discussing synaptic clefts and the transmission of signals.

But here it goes, neurotransmitters are packaged into vesicles and released from the synapse. These transmitters attach to the receptors on the other side, once attached a signal transduction pathway occurs.
Signal transduction has multiple end goals. Protein synthesis, gated ion channel control, sodium potassium pump initiation or controlled cell death.

There are many neurotransmitters and each has a specific receptor, the vesicles have an affinity for all neurotransmitters. A neurotransmitter will not work if the receptor is blocked or absent. Neurotransmitters don’t dissipate necessarily but are reuptaken into the synapse cleft.

I think what helped me was understanding a signal transduction pathway. An example could be charging your cell phone for instance.

You see (stimulus) 15% -> your hand grabs the charger (vesicles/neurotransmitter) > you plug the charger into the wall (vesicles membrane merges with cleft wall) > the electricity flows into the charger from the wall (neurotransmitter release into synapse) > your hand attaches the charger to the phone port (transmitter binds to receptor site) > phone recieves electricity (cleft deformation and uptake of neurotransmitter) > phone charges (response to stimulus)

basically, the point of synaptic transmission is signal propagation (or not). Our nervous system is comprised of nerves (hence the name), which carry signals coming from around the body to the brain/brainstem and vice versa. For a number of reasons, but primarily efficiency, every part of your body doesn’t have a nerve that is directly connected to the brain, so one nerve can branch out to many other nerves (or vice versa). In the nerve itself, the signal is propagated through voltage differential (a conversation in itself), but imagine it like an electrical wire with electricity flowing through it (or not) being the signal. Like the electrical wire, when the signal gets to the end of the wire (or nerve in this case) for the signal to continue it must be connected to another wire. Unfortunately in the case of the nerve, it cannot directly connect and there is generally a space between nerves, known as a synapse. In the synapse the electrical signal passed down the nerve is generally converted into a chemical one (neurotransmitters), therefore the stronger the signal the more of a chemical is released, and the next nerve picks up the chemical (via receptors) and knows how strong of a signal it needs to send out. There are a number of chemicals and receptors for the particular chemicals for various tasks but for simplicity’s sake, I will avoid that. The main idea here is that a nerve gets a signal, the signal reached the end of the nerve (synapse) where it converts the electrical signal to a chemical one (releasing neurotransmitters) and the next nerve picks up the signal (via receptors) which it converts back to an electrical signal to continue until it hits the next nerve and the cycle continues until the signal gets to where it needs to go.

in terms of the actual process seems u/camo0067 has a good handle on that.