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The Neurobiology of Ecstasy (MDMA)

7: Anatomy of a neuron

Illustration of neuronal anatomy

Now that the students know that there are specific regions of the brain affected by ecstasy, you will need to describe how it works. First, indicate that the different regions of the brain are connected by nerve cells or neurons via pathways. These pathways of neurons send and integrate information (electrical and chemical). Describe the neuron using the schematic in this image. The cell body, which contains the nucleus, is the center of activity. Dendrites receive chemical information from other neurons that is converted to electrical signals which travel toward the cell body. When the cell body receives enough electrical signals to excite it, a large electrical impulse is generated and it travels down the axon toward the terminal. In the terminal area, chemicals called neurotransmitters are released from the neuron in response to the arrival of an electrical signal. Tell the students that you will explain this in more detail, using the neurochemical serotonin as an example.

This page was last updated January 2007

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AP style citation

National Institute of Drug Abuse (2007). 7: Anatomy of a neuron . In The Neurobiology of Ecstasy (MDMA). Retrieved from http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/teaching-packets/neurobiology-ecstasy/section-i/7-anatomy-neuron

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