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Describe Synapse Function

In this worksheet, students will describe how impulses are transmitted across a synapse.

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

Image of toilet

 

In a previous worksheet on the nervous system, we learned that we need our nervous system to pee! And we also learned that our nervous system consists of nerves and neurones. 

Image of the nervous system

 

A neurone has many special adaptations that allow it to be suited to its function. One of these special features is the myelin sheath. The myelin sheath is a blanket of fatty cells that cover neurones. This helps to protect the nerve cell from damage and really helps to speed up the transmission of nerve impulses. 

 

Image of a nerve 

 

Neurones don't actually touch. Where neurones meet, there is a gap called a synapse. It's here that a specific chemical passes on the impulse to the next neurone in line. This chemical is called a neurotransmitter.

 

Image of synapse

 

Let's have a look at this process in more detail below:

 

image of synapse

 

1. The nerve impulse arrives at the synapse.

 2. The chemical messenger (a neurotransmitter) is released into the synapse. 

3. The neurotransmitter diffuses across the synapse.

4. The neurotransmitter binds with a receptor on the membrane of the second neurone.

5. The binding of the neurotransmitter and receptor stimulates the impulse down the second neurone.

 

Once the impulse has been passed along, the neurotransmitter is released from the receptor, where it's often degraded by enzymes or taken up again by the neurone it was released from -  ready to be used again!

 

In the following activity, you will be describing the function of the synapse.

Which of the following organs are part of the central nervous system? 

Skin

Brain

Eyes

Spinal cord

What are the functions of the parts of the nervous system listed below?

Column A

Column B

Sensory neurone
Passes on impulses from sense organs to the coordi...
Synapse
Passes impulses to an effector
Relay neurone
Neurone that connects a sensory and motor neurone
Motor neurone
The gap that allows impulses to pass to another ne...

The myelin sheath wraps around the axons of nerve cells. Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease that causes your immune system to attack the myelin sheath.

 

How might this affect nerve transmission? 

 

Image of a nerve

Nerve transmission is faster than normal

Nerve transmission is slow or may not happen at all in some cases

Nerve transmission is not affected

Why are reflexes so important?

They keep us safe from possible harm by reacting quickly

They keep us safe from possible harm by reacting slowly

They allow you to choose your response

What is the name of the junction, A, between the two neurones in the picture below?

 

Image of reflex arc and synapse

Describe how a nerve impulse is passed on from one neurone to another by selecting the order in which these events occur.

In order to pass on a nervous impulse, a substance (X) is released into the synapse.

 

Label X.

 

Image of synapse

The image below shows a synapse.

 

Label structure A.

 

Image of synapse

Neurotransmitter

Receptor

Axon

Describe how nerve impulses are transmitted across synapses.

Neurotransmitter

Receptor

Axon

How do neurotransmitters move across the synapse from one neurone to the other?

They swim across

They float in blood to get across

They diffuse across

  • Question 1

Which of the following organs are part of the central nervous system? 

CORRECT ANSWER
Brain
Spinal cord
EDDIE SAYS
Hopefully, this didn't catch you out, since it is really a recap question as to what makes up the central nervous system. If you weren't too sure, it would be a good idea to have a go at one of the worksheets on the nervous system before continuing with this activity.
  • Question 2

What are the functions of the parts of the nervous system listed below?

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

Sensory neurone
Passes on impulses from sense org...
Synapse
The gap that allows impulses to p...
Relay neurone
Neurone that connects a sensory a...
Motor neurone
Passes impulses to an effector
EDDIE SAYS
These are really key terms you need to remember, so have a few tries in order to consolidate your learning. There are a few tips that might help you to remember which is which. The sensory neurone is to do with your senses and is connected to your sense organs. The motor neurone is to do with movement - the impulses may trigger a movement. The relay neurone passes an impulse on - just like passing the baton on during a relay race!
  • Question 3

The myelin sheath wraps around the axons of nerve cells. Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease that causes your immune system to attack the myelin sheath.

 

How might this affect nerve transmission? 

 

Image of a nerve

CORRECT ANSWER
Nerve transmission is slow or may not happen at all in some cases
EDDIE SAYS
The job of a nerve cell is to transmit or carry information via nerve impulses to different parts of the body. When the myelin sheath is damaged, the nerves can also be damaged and scarred. This makes it harder for the nerve cells to transmit impulses, which can lead to weakened muscles, coordination issues and even paralysis.
  • Question 4

Why are reflexes so important?

CORRECT ANSWER
They keep us safe from possible harm by reacting quickly
EDDIE SAYS
Reflexes are very important for our survival and allow us to react really quickly to possibly dangerous situations. Certain drugs can affect our reflexes and slow our responses, which is why it's illegal to drink alcohol and drive.
  • Question 5

What is the name of the junction, A, between the two neurones in the picture below?

 

Image of reflex arc and synapse

CORRECT ANSWER
synapse
a synapse
the synapse
EDDIE SAYS
How did you get on with spelling this word? The synapse helps nerve impulses to be passed on quickly to other neurones. They are highly specific, so it means that nerve impulses travel to where they're meant to go.
  • Question 6

Describe how a nerve impulse is passed on from one neurone to another by selecting the order in which these events occur.

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Don't worry if you got a bit muddled with this question. There are a lot of parts to remember in the sequence of nerve impulses. However, this is a great recap on nerve transmission, so it's a good idea to have a few tries to consolidate your knowledge.
  • Question 7

In order to pass on a nervous impulse, a substance (X) is released into the synapse.

 

Label X.

 

Image of synapse

CORRECT ANSWER
neurotransmitter
a neurotransmitter
neurotransmitters
EDDIE SAYS
Did you know that there are loads of different types of neurotransmitters? Some neurotransmitters, like serotonin, affect your mood! If you do something that releases a lot of serotonin, you will probably feel a sense of happiness and well-being.
  • Question 8

The image below shows a synapse.

 

Label structure A.

 

Image of synapse

CORRECT ANSWER
Receptor
EDDIE SAYS
Did you recognise that this must be a receptor because it is ready to receive the neurotransmitter? Receptors are very specific in shape, so only neurotransmitters that fit the receptor will be able to bind to it and stimulate an impulse.
  • Question 9

Describe how nerve impulses are transmitted across synapses.

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Phew - what a lot of blanks to fill in. Don't be put off by such a task - have a go at every answer even if you're not too sure. The word you might have got wrong was 'diffuses' - which is the way that the neurotransmitter crosses the synapse. It was important to use this word and not any alternative, so you won't have got the mark if you used anything else instead! Well done for completing another activity. Are you feeling more confident with this topic now?
  • Question 10

How do neurotransmitters move across the synapse from one neurone to the other?

CORRECT ANSWER
They diffuse across
EDDIE SAYS
Hopefully, you were able to eliminate the first two options even if you weren't absolutely certain of the correct answer! A quick reminder: diffusion is the movement of particles from a higher concentration to a lower concentration. If this doesn't ring any bells, it might be a good idea to do one of the activities on diffusion after completing this one!
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