Human brain is the most complexly organized thing in the universe. Of all the living organisms who have made it through the long process of evolution, human is the only living organism with such a well-developed brain and the complex functions it is able to perform.
Neurotransmitters are one of the main reasons for the healthy, timely and well-organized mechanism of human brain. It contains approximately around 86 billion neurons, which communicate by passing different chemical messages at the synapse, the process known as neurotransmission.
Out of the many types of neurotransmitters in the brain, we are going to discuss some of the most important neurotransmitters like serotonin for stabilizing your mood, glycine for sleep, and others like GABA, dopamine, glutamate etc. For such other different reasons, where the neurotransmitters show a great impact on human behavior.
Let’s get started…
What Are Neurotransmitters?
Neurotransmitters are the chemical substances which are released at the end of a nerve fiber due to a nerve impulse that is generated by diffusion. In simple terms they are the chemical messengers that help nerve cells transmit a message across the synapse to a target cell. The target here may be another nerve cell, or a muscle cell, or a gland cell. The nerve cells create these chemicals in order to transmit the messages.
Neurotransmitters are produced inside the neuron itself. The process starts with a cell getting activated and the neurochemicals get released into the synapse from a particular kind of folder likes assembled near the cell membrane called synaptic vesicles.
Interestingly for a long time it was believed that only neurons are capable of releasing neurotransmitters. However, with a new research it is proven now that Glia is also capable of releasing the neurotransmitters into the synapses.
The neurotransmitters that are released by the different cell types contribute their impacts on behavior of humans, even the way they feel, the way they think.
How Do Neurotransmitters Work?
The working mechanism of the neurotransmitters are extremely complex and need to be understood before turning to the next page. The whole point of the neurotransmissions is for the neurons being able to send messages throughout the body and communicate with one another to transmit signals.
Interestingly, neurons aren’t connected, they have a small space at the end which is called as synapse. This synapse is needed for the communication with the other cells. The hectic and an important task of the signal is to be able to cross this small space. This is the process known as neurotransmission.
Generally, neurotransmitters are released from the axon terminal once the electrical signal reaches the synapse. This release triggers the release of the synaptic vesicles that contain neurotransmitters. These vesicles drop down their filling into the synapse, where the neurotransmitters are freed to move through the synapse gap towards the target cells. The target cells have a certain kind of receptors where they can bind and bring out the changes to the cells.
Another interesting fact is that the receptors and the neurotransmitters act in coordination with each other. The coordination is such that of a system, where a specific neurotransmitter is needed to bind a specific receptor only.
Types of Neurotransmitters and Their Relation with Human Behavior
We have seen what are neurotransmitters and the mechanism of how they work. Now in this section we will check out the different types of neurotransmitters and how they impact the human behavior and functions related to the human body.
Neurotransmitters like dopamine and glutamate directly act on the target cells. Whereas, the neurotransmitters like insulin and oxytocin function in a more detailed way.
More than 60 different neurotransmitters are present in the human brain. The neurotransmission is responsible for the human cognition and behavior to effect. Various neurotransmitters are known for their special functions like, serotonin is the happy chemical, while, dopamine is the pleasure chemical and GABA are the learning chemical. With each specific function and role, neurotransmitters work in coordination with the receptors and carry out the assigned function.
Let’s check out some of the important neurotransmitters and how they help human brain functioning:
Dopamine (DA) is popularly known as the “pleasure chemical,” as it releases with the mammals receiving as a reward in response to their behavior, either in the form of sex, drugs or food. This neurotransmitter plays a vital role in the human body in a diverse way, hence is popular among the other neurotransmitters. It helps humans with motivation, movement, attention, concentration, memory and learning with decision making ability. It Also plays vital role in the neurotic disorders like addiction, Parkinson’s disease, and schizophrenia.
Glutamate amino acid (GLU) is an amino acid which works as neurotransmitter. Glutamate in excess results in the death of neurons due to stroke, traumatic brain injury, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Glutamate is the reason for an activated learning and memory techniques. Not only just this, it is the reason your taste receptors respond to, and you can identify the umami flavor in your food.
Glycine is another similar amino acid which functions like a neurotransmitter and is used for treating schizophrenia, stroke, benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). It is mostly used for balancing your sleep levels.
Serotonin which is also known as the happy chemical or the soothing chemical is the most important neurotransmitters known for the stabilizing of your mood effects. If you lack this neurotransmitter, you may encounter disorders like depression. Serotonin helps to balance appetite, memory and sleep.
Gamma-Aminobutyric acid is another important neurotransmitter, popularly known as GABA. It is helpful in inhibiting neural signaling. It plays important role in your brain development. GABA is well known for its role in developing the learning techniques in human beings.
Apart from these main neurotransmitter’s other neurotransmitters like oxytocin and vasopressin are also important of the human brain function properly. They are important to make you feel emotionally strong.
Oxytocin is also known as love hormone or cuddle hormone due the feelings it develops within mammals, especially mothers for their children, which helps secrete them milk for their infant.
Neurotransmitters are responsible for releasing and secreting important feelings and emotions in human beings according to the scientific studies, we aren’t even aware how many more neurotransmitters are present and functioning yet.