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Front. Mol. Neurosci. | doi: 10.3389/fnmol.2018.00427

Two forms of electrical transmission between neurons

  • 1Albert Einstein College of Medicine, United States

Electrical signaling is a cardinal feature of the nervous system and endows it with the capability of quickly reacting to changes in the environment. Although synaptic communication between nerve cells is perceived to be mainly chemically mediated, electrical synaptic interactions also occur. Two different strategies are responsible for electrical communication between neurons. One is the consequence of low resistance intercellular pathways, called “gap junctions”, for the spread of electrical currents between the interior of two cells. The second occurs in the absence of cells contacts and is a consequence of the extracellular electrical fields generated by the electrical activity of neurons. Here, we contrast the properties of these two different forms of electrical communication and their individual contributions to brain function.

Keywords: synaptic communication, ephapsis, electrical synapse, gap junction, electric field

Received: 23 Jul 2018; Accepted: 05 Nov 2018.

Edited by:

Juan A. Orellana, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Chile

Reviewed by:

Lidia Szczupak, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina
Christian Broberger, Karolinska Institutet (KI), Sweden  

Copyright: © 2018 Pereda and Faber. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Alberto Pereda, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York City, United States, alberto.pereda@einstein.yu.edu