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December 09, 2011


A micrograph of acetylcholine.

Discussing Neurotransmitters and specifically, acetylcholine By Hannah Flam and Elizabeth Kellen


emotional states and reaction to pain. Neurotransmitters not only interact with other between other n this month's issue of You've neurotransmitters, but they Got Nerve, we discuss what interact with hormones and neurotransmitters and specifically, chemicals in the brain as well. acetylcholine. Before we can Some of the functions explain the functions and the neurotransmitters aid in include effects of acetylcholine, we must control of appetite, regulating define what a neurotransmitter male and female sex hormones, actually is. regulating sleep, and modulating A neurotransmitter is a mood and thought processes. chemical produced and secreted Acetylcholine, one of the first by a neuron at the synaptic end neurotransmitters to be bulbs. They diffuse across a discovered, is a neurotransmitter synapse and either cause the excitation or inhibition of another active in both the central and peripheral nervous systems. It is neuron.  Neurotransmitters synthesized from dietary choline regulate a multitude of physical and acetyl coenzyme A and is and emotional functions of the released by the stimulation of the body such as mental and


vagus nerve. It is the most prevalent of the neurotransmitters in the body and is involved in learning, memory, arousal, basic motor functions and is responsible for allowing sodium to flow inside of muscle cells through cation control channels. Acetylcholine only exists for a few seconds after its formation; it becomes hydrolysed by the enzyme acetylcholinesterase (found in cholinergic nerves). If acetylcholine was not to be hydrolysed by acetylcholinesterase, it would cause a continuous stimulation of glands, muscles, and the central nervous system.

BRAINTEASER December 09, 2011

Acetylcholine Facts and Functions


cetylcholine is considered to be

both excitatory and inhibitory depending upon the type of tissue and the nature of the receptor this neurotransmitter is interacting with. Acetylcholine is considered to be both excitatory and inhibitory depending upon the type of tissue and the nature of the receptor this neurotransmitter is interacting with. It affects the cognitive functions within the body, including memory and thought, inside the brain. Outside the brain, it is involved with heart rate, digestion, secretion of saliva, and bladder function. In order for a cholinergic neuron (neurons that receive and transmit ACH) to receive a signal, there must be a low concentration of ACH outside of the neuron. If there is too much ACH, the signal will not be sent. Some drugs that increase the level of ACH in a person’s system have been proven to improve memory in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.


Crystalized Acetylcholine

properly. When the level of Dopamine increases and the level of ACH remains the same, brain function is severely affected. Without acetylcholine, basic cognitive and organ functions would be impossible. Let’s face it, life without acetylcholine would be depressing!

nteresting Facts and Diseases:

Parkinson’s: Dopamine and ACH work together to help the body function smoothly, especially in the part of the brain that controls memory and learning. The two chemicals must be at the right levels in order for everything to function

Suffering from depression? Some anti- depressants work by blocking the ACH receptors which can be one of the main causes of side effects from anti- depressants. Do you know someone who is developing Alzheimer’s diseases?  Some drugs that help improve ACH activity in the brain have been proven to improve memory in Alzheimer patients.

Want more information? To learn more about neurotransmitters, click here. http:// Acetylcholine affects cognitive functions including memory and thought.


To watch a video about Alzheimer’s disease, click here. http:// m/A-Ar/Acetylcholine.html#b v=NjgBnx1jVIU&feature=rela ted