Lecture 12. Neurochemistry
The major unique biochemical properties of the brain have to do with their
synaptic interactions, which we discuss today.
A number of different molecules
can act as neurotransmitters or neuromodulators, including amino acids
(glutamate, aspartate, glycine), biogenic amines (dopamine, norepinephrine,
epinephrine, serotonin) and a large number of peptides (enkephalins, substance
P, oxytocin, vasopressin).
Each of these transmitters interacts with specific
receptors and has unique roles in the general function of the brain.
the life history of a transmitter, with details of their synthesis, packaging in
vesicles for release, release and binding to post-synaptic receptors, and
recycling or inactivation to terminate the synaptic event.
Finally, we discuss the
nicotinic acetylcholine receptor in more detail as an example of an ionotropic
To learn some general facts about the major transmitter types, including
glutamate, GABA, glycine, dopamine, norepinephrine, epinephrine, serotonin
and the peptides such as enkephalin and substance P.
To study the stages in the life history of neurotransmitters, including details
about their synthesis, packaging, receptor interactions and recycling.
To study the molecular structure and function of the nicotinic acetylcholine
receptor as an example of how ionotropic receptor/channels work.
Purves et al., Chapter 6.
Neurochemistry is the study of the biochemical interactions within the
brain that underlie neural activity.
While researchers are studying every aspect
of brain biochemistry, much of the present work is focused on the biochemistry of
synaptic function, which we will discuss in this lecture.
The most important
compounds are the neurotransmitters, which carry the signal from one neuron to
Brief Summary of Transmitters and Neuromodulators
1. Glutamate and aspartate
These are the most common excitatory
transmitters in the brain; both appear to bind to the same receptors,
and almost all study has focused on the actions of glutamate.