Electrical and chemical communication between neurons

13. March 2011 - 0:00

In the brain, cells called neurons use ions (electrical charges) and chemicals called neurotransmitters to communicate with one another. Other cells called glia support the neurons in many ways. In this movie, researchers imaged the amount of calcium in the cells to make the electrical activity easier to see. The fast flashes of bright light you see are produced by neurons, and the slow glowing lights are produced by glia. In Parkinson's disease, the neurons that produce the neurotransmitter dopamine die, resulting in a disturbance in the communication between these cells. By understanding how communication between cells is affected, we hope to learn how we can replace the action of dopamine in Parkinson's patients and help them return to normal activity.

Movie by Dr. Gordon Arbuthnott, Principal Investigator of the Brain Mechanisms for Behaviour Unit, Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology, Okinawa, Japan.

Learn more about the Brain Mechanisms for Behaviour Unit at

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