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Neurotransmitters and its typesBY: Amna Adnan | Category: Biology | Submitted: 2010-08-15 21:35:28
Neurotransmitters are the chemicals which are the source of transmitting nerve impulses from one nerve cell to the other. In other words they are involved in the synapse that is they send message in the form of nerve impulse. Actually all the functions of the body depend on these neurotransmitters like heart beats when it receives signals from the brain. Similarly breathing of the lungs and process of digestion in the stomach all the things happen when they receive certain nerve impulses from the brain. Neurotransmitters also affect an individual's mood, weight, sleep etc. some of the examples of neurotransmitters are as follows.
Types of Neurotransmitters:-
Neurotransmitters are of two types that is inhibitory and excitatory. Inhibitory neurons are responsible for calming the brain and create balance like balance in mood. They can easily be replaced by excitatory neurotransmitters when they are overactive. It is not necessary that excitatory neurotransmitters are always exciting but they also stimulate the brain.
The first neurotransmitter discovered is acetylcholine. It was discovered by a German scientist Otto Loewi, winner of Nobel Prize. Many functions of the body are associated with this neurotransmitter. For example, it is responsible for the stimulation of muscles like the muscles of gastro intestinal system. It is also present in the sensory neurons of the nervous system and controls the dreams a person has during his sleep.
Endorphin is the short form for endogenous morphine. The structure of endorphin is similar to the morphine or heroine and it also has the similar function. It is the type of inhibitory neurotransmitters as it is involved in reducing the pain and making the person calm and happy. This neurotransmitter is also responsible for the hibernation of some animals like bears.
GABA is also a type of inhibitory neurotransmitter which is responsible for blocking those signals of excitatory neurotransmitters which lead to the anxiety and panic. People who have little amount of GABA in their body, they are unable to control anxiety and use drugs like Valium to develop resistance against anxiety. When certain parts of the brain lack GABA, it leads to epilepsy.
Dopamine is found in both inhibitory and excitatory neurotransmitters. It is associated with the emotions of the body, perception and movement. If the degeneration or destruction of dopamine occurs, Parkinson's disease occurs. Similarly Schizophrenia and other psychological disorders are also the result of imbalanced activity of dopamine. Decreased amount of dopamine may also result in the anxiety disorders.
Serotonin is not responsible for stimulating the brain but its excess amount in the brain leads to the stable mood and also balances the excitatory neurotransmitters. It is also involved in other processes, for example, it controls pain, sleep cycle, carbohydrate cravings and also the efficient digestion process. If the amount of serotonin is less, it will lead to the weak functioning of immune system.
Norepinephrine was discovered by a Nobel Prize winner Ulf von Euler. It is responsible for increasing the heart rate and blood pressure. N other words it brings the nervous system of the human body into high alert. It is released by the adrenal glands into the blood stream along with another neurotransmitter called epinephrine or adrenaline. It also enables the brain to form memories about daily life events. When a person is in depression or tension, his adrenaline will be depleted and if he does exercise, the adrenaline level will increase.
Epinephrine mainly deals with threat that is when a person is in some kind of danger and he has to deal with the situation then this hormone is released in the bloodstream along with another hormone cortisol. It will alarm the heart to beat fast. As a result of this blood pressure will increase and airways of the lungs will open widely. Blood vessels present in the skin and intestines will narrow down allowing the blood to flow to the muscle groups. It will prepare the body to fight or run from the dangerous situation.
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