New search
download case
  • Overview
  • Teaching Notes
  • Answer Key
  • Comments/Replies

When Jenn Lost Her Nerve

A Closer Look at Chemical Synapses



Author:

Philip J. Stephens
Department of Biology
Villanova University
phil.stephens@villanova.edu

Abstract:

In many physiology classes the frog neuromuscular junction (NMJ) is presented as the classic example of a chemical synapse, but many synapses show properties that are different. For example, in many chemical synapses there is a protein transporter in the presynaptic membrane that is responsible for the uptake of liberated neurotransmitter from the synaptic cleft. Certain drugs can interfere with the function of these transporters and therefore can change the level of neurotransmitter in the cleft. This interrupted case study tells the story of one student who takes a prescription drug to control depression and a second student who takes amphetamines to act as a stimulant and maintain his ability to concentrate. The two drugs affect the pre-synaptic reuptake transporter for different neurotransmitters. This case was written for a one-semester animal physiology course taken by sophomore and junior science majors; it could also be used in a general biology course that covers the function of chemical synapses.

Objectives:
  • Describe the signs and symptoms of depression and sudden cessation of anti-depressant drugs.
  • Describe the processes controlling the release of neurotransmitter from the presynaptic terminal.
  • Identify the role of the reuptake transporter in maintaining the concentration of neurotransmitter in the synaptic cleft and explain how a decline in the concentration of neurotransmitter in the synaptic cleft will produce down regulation of the receptors in the postsynaptic membrane.
  • Explain how a decline in reuptake activity increases the concentration of neurotransmitter in the synaptic cleft and correlate depression with a low level of serotonin in the synaptic cleft.
Keywords: physiology; chemical synapse; reuptake transporter; amphetamines; depression; sertraline; serotonin; catecholamine; dopamine
Topical Area: N/A
Educational Level: Undergraduate lower division, Undergraduate upper division
Formats: PDF
Type/Method: Interrupted
Language: English
Subject Headings: Biology (General)   Medicine (General)   Physiology   Neuroscience  
Date Posted: 9/22/2016
Date Modified: N/A
Copyright: Copyright held by the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science, University at Buffalo, State University of New York. Please see our usage guidelines, which outline our policy concerning permissible reproduction of this work.

Teaching Notes


Case teaching notes are password-protected and access to them is limited to paid subscribed instructors. To become a paid subscriber, begin the process by registering here.

Teaching notes are intended to help teachers select and adopt a case. They typically include a summary of the case, teaching objectives, information about the intended audience, details about how the case may be taught, and a list of references and resources.

  Download Teaching Notes

Answer Key


Answer keys for the cases in our collection are password-protected and access to them is limited to paid subscribed instructors. To become a paid subscriber, begin the process by registering here.


  Get Answer Key



Name:
Email:
Department:
Institution:
City State:
Comments:
security code
Enter Security Code: