VERONICA FALCONIERI / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY VERONICA FALCONIERI / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Computer illustration of the junctions between a nerve cell (blue) and muscle fibres (red). Such junctions are known as synapses. The nerve cells (motor neuron) end in a motor end plate, which consists of several terminal swellings, or boutons that hold neurotransmitter chemicals (spheres). When activated, the boutons release a neurotransmitter, which is taken up by receptors on the muscle's side of the synapse. This makes the muscles contract. In neuromuscular synapses such as this, the neurotransmitter is the chemical acetylcholine.
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