ALFRED PASIEKA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY ALFRED PASIEKA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Nerve synapse and serotonin neurotransmitter molecule. Computer artwork of a junction, or synapse, between two nerve cells (neurons, blue). As the electrical signal reaches the presynaptic end of a neuron it triggers the release of neurotransmitters across the gap, or synaptic cleft, between the two cells. The serotonin neurotransmitter bind to receptors on the postsynaptic membrane, changing the membrane's excitability and triggering an electrical impulse. In the serotonin molecule, the atoms (spheres) are colour-coded: carbon (grey), hydrogen (green), nitrogen (blue) and oxygen (red). A deficiency of serotonin in the brain has been shown to cause depression. This has led to the development of the SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) antidepressants, such as Prozac (fluoxetine).
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