We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Is the Function of Neurotransmitters?

Mary McMahon
By
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGEEK is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGEEK, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

The function of neurotransmitters is the sending of signals from neurons to muscle fibers, glands, or to other neurons. These chemicals act in the body to regulate a variety of processes, including responses to stimuli and emotional states. Imbalances in the chemistry of the central nervous system can resort in disorders due to excessive or reduced levels of neurotransmitters. For example, some people with depression have an imbalance in the chemical serotonin which contributes to deep depressive moods. Studies on the function of neurotransmitters identify the different kinds of chemicals found in the body and how they work, which can be applied to medical treatment.

Neurons can interact through chemical or electrical synapses. Electrical synapses require a direct physical connection for signals to travel between a neuron and the target. Chemical synapses take the form of a small gap. Pouches known as vesicles squeeze out neurotransmitters, triggering a response in the target when they lock onto receptors. It can release the chemical when the response is over to allow the body to recycle it, which permits rapid recovery between nerve signals.

In the case of a synapse connecting two nerves, the neurotransmitters work to pass a signal on. They may excite or inhibit a neuron, moderating a response. For example, the neurotransmitter dopamine is involved in pleasure and reward in the brain. When people do something they enjoy, the brain releases more of this chemical, triggering a series of nerve responses that create a feeling of happiness. This regulation of neurological activity is an important part of the function of neurotransmitters.

Muscle fibers may be told to contract or relax by a neurotransmitter. This in turn can signal neighboring fibers to create a chain reaction. Another function of neurotransmitters can be seen at the glands, where these chemicals stimulate the production and release of hormones. For example, some people experiencing a flight or fight response typically develop a cascade of chemical reactions in their bodies, including the release of specific hormones in response to neurotransmitter signals.

When a disruption occurs, a patient can experience symptoms like poor motor coordination, hormone imbalances, or difficulty with cognition. Disorders involving the function of neurotransmitters may be treated with medications to restore the chemical balance. For instance, patients could take medications to slow the rate of reuptake, where the chemicals are absorbed for use in another signal; this increases the amount of neurotransmitters active at any given time.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Read more
WiseGEEK, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGEEK, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.