Chemical synapse with close-up of GABA receptor. Credit: http://www.3d4medical.com/
Neurons relay messages by accepting inputs at the dendrite and cell body, passing waves of electrochemical activity down the axon, and releasing chemical neurotransmitters from the axon to the next neuron at the synapse.
The word synapse comes from synaptein which Sir Charles Scott Sherrington and colleagues coined from the Greek syn- (together) and haptein (to clasp). In the nervous system a synapse is a structure that permits a neuron to pass an electrical or chemical signal to another cell (neural or otherwise). Synapses are essential to neuronal function: neurons are cells that are specialized to pass signals to individual target cells and synapses are the means by which they do so. There are two…
Electrical Synapses Are Critical for Chemical Synapse Function - "New research greatly complicates plans to map the brain... The very significant inhibitory neurons, critical for cognition, are prominent users of electrical synapses. But, even more important is that it now appears that both types of synapses are necessary for the function of either." Gap Junction - Electrical Synapse