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Synapses: Origin & Evolution

The focus of this episode was synapses, the wonderful and enigmatic connections between neurons that form the basis of the nervous system. In particular, we discussed the origin and evolution of synapses, comparing their structure, function, and prevalence across different species along the evolutionary timeline.

Listen to the episode here

The basic structure of a synapse. From

Find an excellent review about synapses by Thomas Sudhof & Robert Malenka here

A lot of what we spoke about was inspired by an excellent review about the evolution and origin of synapses by Thomas Ryan & Seth Grant here, where they highlight the significance of synapses in neuronal function and development and present the "synapse-first model".

Some other excellent reviews:

“Evolutionary expansion and anatomical specialization of synapse proteome complexity” Emes et al. 2008

“Evolutionary origin of synapses and neurons – Bridging the gap” Burkhardt & Sprecher, 2017

“The Evolutionary Assembly of Neuronal Machinery” David Arendt, 2020

A recent paper challenged the dogma that synapses are necessary for a nervous system

This nature news article about the paper summarised it well


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