The smart way to improve grades

Comprehensive & curriculum aligned

Try an activity or get started for free

Explore Synapse Function

In this worksheet, students will explore 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. When the myelin sheath is damaged, the nerves can also get 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.

 

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, called a neurotransmitter, passes on the impulse to the next neurone in line. 

 

Image of synapse

 

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

 

Image of synapse to label

 

1. A nerve impulse arrives at the synapse of the first neurone, called the pre-synaptic neurone.

 2. Neurotransmitters are found in a structure called synaptic vesicles - they are released from the vesicles into the synapse.

3. The neurotransmitter diffuses across the synapse and binds with a receptor on the membrane of the second neurone, called the post-synaptic neurone. 

4. The binding of the neurotransmitter and receptor stimulates the impulse down the post-synaptic 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 pre-synaptic neurone - ready to be used again!

 

Some drugs can affect the transmission of nerve impulses and the neurotransmitters involved. For example, ecstasy can increase the release of certain neurotransmitters, causing mood-enhancing effects. Caffeine also increases levels of certain neurotransmitters which give feelings of pleasure.

 

In the following activity, you will be exploring the function of synapses.

How does the myelin sheath affect nerve transmission?

 

Image of a nerve

Speeds up nerve transmission

Slows down nerve transmission

Nerve transmission is not affected

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

Neurotransmitters ....(a).... across the synapse from the pre-synaptic neurone to the ....(b).... found on the membrane of the post-synaptic neurone. 

 

What are (a) and (b)? 

(a) Pre-synaptic neurone

(a) Diffuse

(b) Vesicles

(b) Receptor

Explain how nerve impulses are transmitted across the synapse.

(a) Pre-synaptic neurone

(a) Diffuse

(b) Vesicles

(b) Receptor

Label the neurons (a) and (b). 

 

Image of neurons and synapse

(a) Pre-synaptic neuron

(b) Pre-synaptic neuron

(a) Post-synaptic neuron

(b) Post-synaptic neuron

In the image below, in which direction will the stimulated impulse travel? 

 

Image of neurons and synapse




Explain how a nerve impulse is stimulated in the post-synaptic neurone by labelling the image below. 

 

Image of synapse to label

Column A

Column B

1
Neurotransmitters diffuse across the synapse and b...
2
Nerve impulse is stimulated in the post-synaptic n...
3
Neurotransmitters are released from synaptic vesic...
4
A nerve impulse arrives at the pre-synaptic neuron...

What is the name of the structure that contains the neurotransmitters?

Post-synaptic membrane

Synaptic vesicle

Pre-synaptic membrane

  • Question 1

How does the myelin sheath affect nerve transmission?

 

Image of a nerve

CORRECT ANSWER
Speeds up nerve transmission
EDDIE SAYS
Without the myelin sheath, nerve transmission would happen very slowly. Nerves would be left exposed as well, allowing possible damage to occur.
  • Question 2

Describe how a nerve impulse is passed on from one neurone to another by selecting the order in which the events below 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 3

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 4

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 5

Neurotransmitters ....(a).... across the synapse from the pre-synaptic neurone to the ....(b).... found on the membrane of the post-synaptic neurone. 

 

What are (a) and (b)? 

CORRECT ANSWER
(a) Diffuse
(b) Receptor
EDDIE SAYS
Oh there are some really tricky names to remember in this topic, aren't there? The more you study this topic, the more confident you should become with these terms, but sometimes you can solve a problem simply be a process of elimination! Blank (a) had to be the word diffuse because the sentence was clearly missing a verb, not a noun here! Blank (b) was a little more tricky but the clue was that it had to be found on the second neurone - so it had to be receptor. A quick reminder in case you've forgotten it(!) : diffusion is the movement of particles from a higher concentration to a lower concentration.
  • Question 6

Explain how nerve impulses are transmitted across the synapse.

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 7

Label the neurons (a) and (b). 

 

Image of neurons and synapse

CORRECT ANSWER
(a) Pre-synaptic neuron
(b) Post-synaptic neuron
EDDIE SAYS
How did you do with this one? It's really testing your knowledge of words! Remember that the term 'pre' means before the synapse and 'post' means after the synapse. There are many other words that you will be familiar with that use those two prefixes so apply the knowledge you already have to help you with questions like this one.
  • Question 8

In the image below, in which direction will the stimulated impulse travel? 

 

Image of neurons and synapse

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
The nerve impulse is always stimulated away from the pre-synaptic neurone, which is releasing the neurotransmitter.
  • Question 9

Explain how a nerve impulse is stimulated in the post-synaptic neurone by labelling the image below. 

 

Image of synapse to label

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

1
A nerve impulse arrives at the pr...
2
Neurotransmitters are released fr...
3
Neurotransmitters diffuse across ...
4
Nerve impulse is stimulated in th...
EDDIE SAYS
How have you been getting on so far? These four steps are the key steps in nerve transmission, so really take your time to remember them! They may seem hard at the moment, but the more you study this, the more confident you will become.
  • Question 10

What is the name of the structure that contains the neurotransmitters?

CORRECT ANSWER
Synaptic vesicle
EDDIE SAYS
Hopefully, you were able to immediately eliminate the first option - it refers to the post-synaptic membrane which means it is on the second neurone. The synaptic vesicles are little storage sacs that hold the neurotransmitters until they are ready to be released into the synapse.
---- OR ----

Get started for free so you can track and measure your child's progress on this activity.

What is EdPlace?

We're your National Curriculum aligned online education content provider helping each child succeed in English, maths and science from year 1 to GCSE. With an EdPlace account you’ll be able to track and measure progress, helping each child achieve their best. We build confidence and attainment by personalising each child’s learning at a level that suits them.

Get started
laptop

Try an activity or get started for free