• Question: How do you think the cells are connected? Is it not just electrical signals between?

    Asked by Owen to Natalie on 6 Mar 2017.
    • Photo: Natalie Doig

      Natalie Doig answered on 6 Mar 2017:

      That is a really good question. For a long time it was thought that brain cells, or neurons, were actually physically connected and electricity would travel from one neuron to another continuously. Then it was discovered that there is actually a very very small gap between neurons and they talk to each other via things called synapses https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synapse. A synapse involves a small gap between the neurons where one neuron releases a chemical (a neurotransmitter) into the gap and then the second neuron has receptors and can respond to the chemicals released. There are lots of different neurotransmitters which can have lots of different effects; and this is how neurons communicate. So now we consider the way neurons talk to each other as electrochemical. The Science Museum has a good website which explains clearly how brain cells talk to each other http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/whoami/findoutmore/yourbrain/howdoesyourbrainwork/howdoesyournervoussystemwork/howdonervesconnectwitheachother