Brain function relies on the ability of neurons to communicate with each other. Interneuronal communication primarily takes place at synapses, where information from one neuron is rapidly conveyed to a second neuron. There are two main modalities of synaptic transmission: chemical and electrical. Far from functioning independently and serving unrelated functions, mounting evidence indicates that these two modalities of synaptic transmission closely interact, both during development and in the adult brain. Rather than conceiving synaptic transmission as either chemical or electrical, this article emphasizes the notion that synaptic transmission is both chemical and electrical, and that interactions between these two forms of interneuronal communication might be required for normal brain development and function.
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