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When there is a change in voltage in the terminal bouton, voltage-gated calcium channels embedded in the membranes of these boutons become activated.These allow Ca2 ions to diffuse through these channels and bind with synaptic vesicles within the terminal boutons.When ionotropic receptors are activated, certain ion species such as Na to enter the postsynaptic neuron, which depolarizes the postsynaptic membrane.If more of the same type of postsynaptic receptors are activated, then more Na will enter the postsynaptic membrane and depolarize cell.
Since memories are postulated to be represented by vastly interconnected networks of synapses in the brain, synaptic plasticity is one of the important neurochemical foundations of learning and memory (see Hebbian theory).
Synaptic plasticity in both excitatory and inhibitory synapses has been found to be dependent upon postsynaptic calcium release Two molecular mechanisms for synaptic plasticity (researched by the Eric Kandel laboratories) involve the NMDA and AMPA glutamate receptors.
Opening of NMDA channels (which relates to the level of cellular depolarization) leads to a rise in post-synaptic Ca2 concentration and this has been linked to long-term potentiation, LTP (as well as to protein kinase activation); strong depolarization of the post-synaptic cell completely displaces the magnesium ions that block NMDA ion channels and allows calcium ions to enter a cell – probably causing LTP, while weaker depolarization only partially displaces the Mg2 ions, resulting in less Ca2 entering the post-synaptic neuron and lower intracellular Ca2 concentrations (which activate protein phosphatases and induce long-term depression, LTD).
An action potential can be divided into several sequential phases: threshold, rising phase, falling phase, undershoot phase, and recovery.
Following several local graded depolarizations of the membrane potential, the threshold of excitation is reached, voltage-gated sodium channels are activated, which leads to an influx of Na ions.
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Neurons are cells that are specialized to receive, propagate, and transmit electrochemical impulses.