Neurochemistry

From Academic Kids

Neurochemistry is a branch of neuroscience that is heavily devoted to the study of neurochemicals. A neurochemical is an organic molecule that participates in neural activity. This term is often used to refer to neurotransmitters and other molecules such as neuro-active drugs that influence neuron function.

Examples of neurochemicals

Neuropeptide oxytocin
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Neuropeptide oxytocin
  • The neuropeptide oxytocin. Oxytocin is involved in the control of maternal behavior. It is synthesized inside magnocellular neurosecretory cells as a precursor protein that is processed by proteolysis to its shorter active peptide form. Specific parts of the brain such as the supraoptic nucleus produce oxytocin which acts on cells in locations such as the ventral pallidum to produce the behavioral effects of oxytocin. A large amount of oxytocin is made in the hypothalamus, transported to the posterior lobe of the pituitary and released into the blood stream by which it reaches target tssues such as the mammary glands (milk letdown). In the diagram inset, oxytocin is shown bound to a carrier protein, neurophysin.
  • Other examples of neurochemicals
    • Dopamine is important in drug addiction and the reward system of the brain.
    • Nitric oxide is a gas that functions as a neurotransmitter.
    • GABA receptors are targets for important drugs such as the benzodiazepines.

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