Electrical synapses, a personal perspective (or history). Academic Article uri icon


  • Gap junctions are the morphological substrate of one class of electrical synapse. This memoir records the author's involvement in the development of our knowledge of the physiology and ultrastructure of electrical synapses. The answer to whether neurotransmission is electrical or chemical is either. One lesson is that Occam's razor sometimes cut too deep; the nervous system does its operations in a number of different ways and a unitarian approach can lead one astray [M.V.L. Bennett, Nicked by Occam's razor: unitarianism in the investigation of synaptic transmission, Biol. Bull. 168 (1985) 159-167]. Electrical synapses can do many things that chemical synapses can do, and do them just as slowly. The new molecular, cellular and physiological techniques will clarify where gap junctions and electrical coupling do and do not occur and permit experimental manipulation with high specificity.

publication date

  • April 2000