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NIDA

The Brain & the Actions of Cocaine, Opiates, and Marijuana

4: The synapse and synaptic neurotransmission

The synapse and synaptic neurotransmission

Describe the synapse and the process of chemical neurotransmission. Indicate how vesicles containing a neurotransmitter, such as dopamine (the stars), move toward the presynaptic membrane as an electrical impulse arrives at the terminal. Describe the process of dopamine release (show how the vesicles fuse with the presynaptic membrane). Once inside the synaptic cleft, the dopamine can bind to specific proteins called dopamine receptors (in blue) on the membrane of a neighboring neuron. Introduce the idea that occupation of receptors by neurotransmitters causes various actions in the cell; activation or inhibition of enzymes, entry or exit of certain ions. State that you will describe how this happens in a few moments.

This page was last updated January 2007

NIDA Notes: The Latest in Drug Abuse Research

Teaching Packets

Explores the consequences of drug abuse on the brain and body and introduces the topics of prevention, and treatment.