Tu, et al. The Journal of Neuroscience, 2018.
Synapses — the spaces where one neuron communicates with another neuron — are the junctions that create brain circuits. In the neuron above, these meeting points are highlighted in purple and white. At the synapse, one neuron transforms electrical signals into chemical signals called neurotransmitters. The next neuron receives these chemicals and transforms them back into electrical signals.
A wide range of neurological disorders — including intellectual disabilities, autism spectrum disorder, schizophrenia, depression, and Alzheimer’s disease — disrupt synapses and impair communication between brain cells. That makes investigating the proper formation of synapses a vital part of brain research.