Neurotransmitters are endogenous chemicals that play a crucial role in the transmission of signals in the nervous system. They are the substances that facilitate communication between neurons, or nerve cells, by transmitting signals across a synapse, which is the small gap between neurons. When an electrical signal reaches the end of a neuron, it triggers the release of neurotransmitters from small sac-like structures called synaptic vesicles into the synaptic cleft. Once released, these neurotransmitters bind to specific receptors on the surface of the adjacent neuron, initiating a response that may either excite or inhibit the receiving neuron. This response is determined by the type of neurotransmitter and the receptor it binds to. There are various kinds of neurotransmitters, each with distinct functions, including acetylcholine, dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine, and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), among others. These molecules play a critical role in a wide range of physiological processes such as mood regulation, sleep, appetite, cognitive function, and the perception of pain. Imbalances or disruptions in neurotransmitter systems can lead to neurological disorders and mental health conditions, making these substances a significant focus of research in neuroscience and pharmacology. The study of neurotransmitters involves understanding their synthesis, release, binding, and inactivation mechanisms, as well as their roles in health and disease.
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