How the Nervous System Works

The basic cells of your nervous system are neurons. The function of neurons is to transmit information from one area of your nervous system to the rest of your body and brain. Information is transferred from one neuron to the next. When one neuron is stimulated, it sends a signal to the next neuron and then rests until it receives another signal from a neighboring neuron.


Neurons are connected to each other by a small space called a synapse. In order to transmit messages from one neuron to another, the signal must cross the synapse. This is accomplished through the use of neurotransmitters which are chemical signals that cross the synapse from one neuron to another. This process occurs over and over again, from one neuron to another, until the message has reached its destination. All signals in every part of your nervous system are sent and received in this manner. 


Neurotransmitters are chemicals stored in vesicles within the neuron. Neurotransmitters are typically categorized as either excitatory or inhibitory; however, some can be both. Excitatory neurotransmitters stimulate a neuron to send a signal onto the next neuron. Inhibitory neurotransmitters are responsible for preventing a signal from being passed on from one neuron to another. There are several main neurotransmitters, including acetylcholine, norepinephrine, dopamine, glutamate, and serotonin.