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Kate Sheridan's picture

Different Neurotransmitters, Same Action Potential?

I was thinking a lot about neurons and action potentials, and how there must be more going on in neurons than just the propogation of action potentials leading to the eventual release of neurotransmitters. Here's my thinking: in order to generate an action potential in a neuron, you need to depolarize (make the inside of the cell more positive) it. An action potential is only generated if you break through a certain threshold potential of that cell. After you break this threshold, you create an action potential no matter what, and you get the same response every time even if you continue to increase the amount you deploarize the cell. My question is this: if a neuron has the ability to release more than one kind of neurotransmitter, what signal determines what kind of neurotransmitter is released? The only signaling device I've learned about is the action potential, but clearly the neuron must be getting other kinds of signals to tell it what kind of message to spread across the synapse to the next neuron. Does anyone know what other signals neurons receive/transmit?

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