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Excitatory and Inhibitory Synapses

  1. Kristina D. Micheva

Published Online: 30 JAN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470479216.corpsy0327

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

How to Cite

Micheva, K. D. 2010. Excitatory and Inhibitory Synapses. Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1–2.

Author Information

  1. Stanford University School of Medicine

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 30 JAN 2010

Abstract

Chemical synapses—that is, synapses that use a chemical neurotransmitter to transfer information from one neuron to another—can be excitatory or inhibitory, depending on their effect on the postsynaptic neuron. Synapses releasing a neurotransmitter that brings the membrane potential of the postsynaptic neuron toward the threshold for generating action potentials are said to be excitatory. Alternatively, inhibitory synapses drive the membrane potential of the postsynaptic neuron away from the threshold for generating action potentials.

Keywords:

  • long-term potentiation;
  • synaptic competition