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What chemicals are in an animal’s brain?

What chemicals are in an animal’s brain?
Bobby from Midlothian (Aged 5-14)

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One Response

  1. Hi Bobby,

    Animals tend to have the same sorts of chemicals as we have. A lot of these are not very interesting – for example there is some sodium chloride, which is salt, like you sprinkle on food. The really interesting ones are called chemcal transmitters.

    I expect you know your brain is full of brain cells – called neurons. They have to communicate with each other, so have fine branches that reach out to touch other nearby neurons. This is a bit like the twigs of trees touching. However, the odd thing is the neurons don’t quite touch – there’s a tiny gap. To get a message across a neuron has to send out a small amount of chemical into the surrounding liquid. The chemical very quickly drifts over the gap and has an effect on the almost-touching neuron.

    The chemicals have names such as seratonin and dopamine. Sometimes the quantities the brain can make falls below the ideal and this causes problems. It is believed that having too little seratonin may be associated with feeling depressed. A person with too little dopamine gets a problem called Parkinson’s disease which makes it hard for them to make smooth, controlled movements.

    I hope that was the sort of thing you wanted to know.

    Best wishes,

    Peter

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