Specialised junctions at which a neurone communicates with a target cell. At classical synapses, a neurone's presynaptic terminal releases a chemical transmitter stored in synaptic vesicles which diffuses across a narrow synaptic cleft and activates receptors on the postsynaptic membrane of the target cell. The target may be a dendrite, cell body, or axon of another neurone, or a specialised region of a muscle or secretory cell. Neurones may also communicate through direct electrical connections which are sometimes called electrical synapses; these are not included here but rather in gap junctions.

(12 Dec 1998)

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