Types of synapses - electrical & chemical

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• Neurons communicate with one another or effector cells via synapses that allow information to be filtered and integrated. • The two types of synapses are: • electrical • chemical. • Electrical synapses, also known as gap junctions, contain many ion channels (connexons) connecting two adjacent cells. This type of synapse is common in smooth and cardiac muscle. • Gap junctions allow: • faster communication than chemical synapses • the coordination of larger numbers of cells • two-way transmission between cells. • Chemical synapses include a physical separation between adjacent cells called the synaptic cleft. • Since action potentials only propagate along membranes, they cannot cross the synaptic cleft. • In order to communicate across the cleft, the action potential is converted into a chemical signal when it reaches the presynaptic end bulb. • Communication at a chemical synapse is one-way only from presynaptic to postsynaptic membranes.

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