More on Neuroscience - Neurotransmitter Acetylcholine

Have you ever heard of how people with parkison's lack dopamine? or those that suffer from alzheimer lack acetylcholine? For those of you who wander what in the middle earth those things those are, read on; for those who don't (or already know), go read 9gag instead. What is a neurotransmitter?

Both dopamine and acetylcholine are what neuroscientist (or just those who care, in general) call neurotransmitter. To make it easier to visualize, we can imagine a telegraph. Try to imagine a telegraph, where information are delivered electronically through wires, traveling over a great distance, but at a certain point still requires human interference somewhere in the middle to relay the correct information. Now imagine a person in point A producing a message, sending it through the telegraph cables to the operator in point B in the middle. The operator reads the message and relays it, again through the telegraph cable to point C, in which the receptor accepts the message, putting it into a (hopefully) good use. In the analogue above, The person in point A is the sensory cell, which in an organism is usually a nerve cell, producing a stimulus (message), relaying it through the axons, or neuronal cables, really!!. As the stimulus (again, message) arrives at the end of the axon (neuronal cable), it promotes the release of a neurotransmitter (an operator) which passes the message to the next axon (neuronal cable), the message was then taken further to reach person C, which is the second nerve cell (or even further ones).

The actual role of a neurotransmitter is more complex than simply getting a message across; it can in fact prevent a message to get across, or reduce the ammount of message that can get across, and many other uses. At the heart of it, however, the neurotransmitter relay a certain "message" whether it's a positive, or a negative message. Neurotransmitters are very diverse, and every transmitter has its own use, whether it's activating or deactivating a neuron; they also have different uses in different parts of the brain, that is why a defficiency of one neurotransmitter could impact a lot of function.

Acetylcholine: Attention, Learning, and Memory

Among many neurotransmitter, Acetylcholine is a very important neurotransmitter for attention and memory creation. Acetylcholine controls the message exchange between the parts of the brain that controls attention and memory; it therefore impacts the learning function; it's not an overestimation to say that acetylcholine is what makes us such "smart" people.

What happens when we lack acetylcholine? It would impair attention, and since one needs attention to form memory, it therefore impairs the memory; this is why people with alzheimers often lack acetylcholine.

Many energy drinks that advertises concentration would often contain choline, a precursor of acetylcholine, and many other acetylcholoine precursor. There is, however another cheaper alternative to acetylcholine precursor. Choline is sythesized from Choline and acetyl coenzyme-A, which is the main and majority product of sugar breakdown. Since most of us will never be low on choline (usually taken as vitamin B), it is therefore better to save some money and eat sugary stuff whenever we need acetylcholine.

Acetylcholine constant synthesis is also why brain requires a termendous ammount of sugar (to form acetyl coenzyme A) every single day. That is why we should not shy away from our sugars- it's what helps us think and memorize.!

-Adi