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Presynaptic and Postsynaptic Neurons: What Are the Differences?

Published by Dr. Venn-Watson
Dr. Eric Venn-Watson’s Highlights
    • Presynaptic and postsynaptic neurons are involved in the communication between neurons in your brain.
    • Ensuring your neurons can communicate properly is important for your mental health.
    • Taking a cell-supportive supplement, like fatty15, can help ensure your cells are functioning properly.* 

Let’s talk about neurons, how they communicate, and the differences between presynaptic and postsynaptic neurons. 

We’ll also consider ways to support brain health to lead a healthy, happier life. 

Neurons and Their Pathways

Neurons are brain cells found in the brain and spinal cord. The other cells inside the brain are collectively called glia. Neurons communicate with one another and create pathways. A neural pathway is a series of connected neurons that communicate to a particular part of your brain. 

There are three types of neurons: motor neurons, sensory neurons, and interneurons. 

  • Motor neurons. These neurons control muscular function. 
  • Sensory neurons. These neurons control our five senses.
  • Interneurons. These neurons connect other neurons together.

All three types of neurons are essential to proper brain function and communication. 

How Do Neurons Communicate?

Neurons communicate in two ways: by electrical synapses and chemical synapses.

Electrical Synapses

These synapses happen between two neurons and work by shooting electrical signals over a gap junction. This means the neurons are connected, and there’s no space between them. The brain conducts electricity from one neuron to another. 

Electrical synapses are less common than chemical synapses but do occur. Electrical synapses can go in both directions. This means both neurons involved in the communication can be presynaptic (this will be important later). 

Chemical Synapses

These synapses happen between two neurons by emitting chemicals called neurotransmitters over a synaptic cleft. One neuron synthesizes a neurotransmitter and releases it to be received by another neuron. 

Chemical synapse communication goes one way (even in retrograde signaling). This means one neuron must be the sender of information, and one must be the receiver. This brings us to presynaptic and postsynaptic neurons.

During a chemical synapse, two neurons communicate by sending neurotransmitters. The neuron that creates the neurotransmitter and sends it to another neuron is called the presynaptic neuron. The neuron that receives the neurotransmitter is called the postsynaptic neuron. 

Presynaptic Neuron

The presynaptic neuron opens the neural conversation, called the synapse. It synthesizes and releases a neurotransmitter through a process called exocytosis. 

Postsynaptic Neuron

The postsynaptic neuron receives the neurotransmitter through a process called endocytosis. It also inactivates the neurotransmitter once the transmission is complete. 

Any neuron may be a presynaptic or postsynaptic neuron; the difference depends on the direction of neural activity or which way communication flows.

Why Is Neural Communication Important? 

Neural communication is important so we can function properly and enjoy the world around us. All three different types of neurons (motor, sensory, and interneurons) must work together for us to collect data and process it in milliseconds. 

At any given time, when you see colors, smell a flower, run on a treadmill, or learn a new fact, millions of neurons are communicating with one another through a series of neural pathways to recall certain items from memory and create new memories. 

What Happens When Neural Function Declines?

When neurons aren’t able to communicate properly with one another, mental health may begin to decline. Neuron transmission plays a role in processes like mood, sleep, thinking, behavior, and how we experience the world and the people in our lives. 

Decreased neuron function may also play a role in certain diseases like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, or multiple sclerosis. 

Protecting Neural Function 

As we age, protecting our brain’s capacity to remain pliable and form new neural pathways is essential to keeping sharp, staying healthy, and enjoying life. Aside from eating a healthy, balanced diet, keeping certain health markers (like cholesterol, glucose levels, and blood pressure) in a healthy range, and getting regular exercise, you might consider a supplement. 

Supplements for Neural Health

You’ve probably heard that omega-3 supports brain health. Omega-3s are polyunsaturated fatty acids, one of which is essential to our bodies (ALA). (Essential means our bodies need it but can’t readily make it themselves.) 

Omega-3 supplements are wildly popular, especially among adults looking for ways to help prevent neural decline. Unfortunately, taking omega-3 fish oil supplements might not be the best option for supporting your neural health. 

Facts About Omega-3 You Should Know

Only one omega-3 (ALA) is essential. The other two omega-3s (EPA and DHA) are not. 

Higher amounts of omega-3s can also have side effects like:

  • Bruising
  • Excess bleeding if you get injured
  • Thinning blood
  • Fishy aftertaste 

It’s also possible for omega-3 to go rancid in its bottle and in your cells because it’s polyunsaturated fat, which are liquids at room temperature. There’s a better solution for brain health, and it’s called fatty15.*

Elevate your cells. Elevate your self.

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Fatty15 is the first and only supplement to contain FA15™, the pure, vegan-friendly, award winning version of pentadecanoic acid, or C15:0 for short. C15:0 is an odd-chain, saturated fatty acid that science supports as the first essential fatty acid discovered since the omegas over 90 years ago. 

When fatty15 was compared head to head with the purest, highest performing omega-3, fatty15 was found to have significant advantages for our cellular health: 

  • Fatty15 had 26 more clinically relevant benefits to the body than omega-3, and it also helped prevent “bad” cells from proliferating.*
  • Fatty15 was able to safely repair 10 out of 12 cell types studied. Omega-3 could only safely repair 4.
  • Fatty15 was found to be safe for all 12 cell types. Omega-3s, at higher doses, were toxic to four cell types, including lung and blood vessel cells. 

Fatty15 is broader, better, and safer than omega-3, will not go rancid in the bottle or in your body, and never leaves you with a fishy aftertaste.* It’s also cell-supportive, helping support your neurons to function properly:*

  • The fatty acid inside fatty15 is sturdy and stable and integrates into cell membranes to keep them strong. 
  • Fatty15 helps improve the mitochondrial function of your cells by up to 45 percent.
  • Fatty15 helps cells communicate better. By binding to special receptors called PPARs located all over the body, fatty15 helps balance functions like sleep, mood, and even appetite. 

Supporting your brain health just got a lot less fishy.* Fatty15 is the superior way to help ensure your cells are supported so you can enjoy life to the fullest.*


Synaptic Transmission | Psych Athabascau

Difference Between Presynaptic Neuron and Postsynaptic Neuron | Compare the Difference Between Similar Terms

Neurons: How the Brain Communicates | Mental Health America

Profile photo for Eric Venn-Watson

Eric Venn-Watson M.D.

Eric is a physician, U.S. Navy veteran, and Co-founder and COO of Seraphina Therapeutics. Eric served over 25 years as a Navy and Marine Corps physician, working with the special forces community to improve their health and fitness. Seraphina Therapeutics is a health and wellness company dedicated to advancing global health through the discovery of essential fatty acids and micronutrient therapeutics.

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