Autism: A Physiological Perspective Essay

1230 words - 5 pages

Autism is a neural development disorder that affects a person’s ability in socializing, communicating, and repeating behaviors. In this paper, the working mechanism of neutrons is first described and then the organization of the human brain is illustrated. Finally, autism is analyzed with respect to its causes from bio-psychological perspectives.
Neuron Functions
Neurons are specialized cells that receive electrical inputs from other connected neurons and transmit the electrical impulses to the next neuron through the mechanism of action potential. Neurons have a special structure with a cell body (soma) that receives inputs from highly branched dendrites in the form of electrical impulses and transmit action potential through axon. Axons are surrounded by myelin that enables action potentials to spread rapidly from one neuron to another.
Neurons maintain different concentrations of certain ions (charged atoms) across their cell membranes. The neuronal membrane also contains ion channels, which are special proteins that form pores in the membrane to selectively allow particular ions to pass through. These channels are shut when the membrane potential is close to the cell’s resting potential, but they quickly open if the membrane potential increases to a specific threshold value. When the channels open, there is first an influx of sodium ions followed by a rapid efflux of potassium ions from the neuron. Excess ions are subsequently pumped in/out of the neuron. This transient switch in membrane potential is the action potential. The speed of action potential transmission is normally directly related to the size of the axon. Myelin wrapping around the axon serves as an insulator, preventing the dissipation of the depolarization wave.
Neurons communicate through synapses with the synaptic transmission process. In a neuron, various neurotransmitters are stored in synaptic vesicles (or neurotransmitter vesicles) that are discharged at the synapse. The synapse has two neurons: pre-synaptic that sends and post-synaptic that receives information. When an action potential arrives at a synapse, pores in the cell membrane begin to open such that calcium ions can flow into the pre-synaptic terminal, causing chemical neurotransmitters to be discharged into the synaptic cleft. The neurotransmitter spread over the synaptic cleft and interacts with receptors in the post-synaptic membrane. These receptors are ion channels and will open up to let ions flow into the post-synaptic terminal after they interact with the neurotransmitter. Neurotransmission can be either excitatory or inhibitory, which either increases the likelihood of the post-synaptic neuron triggering an action potential or decreases that of an action potential being generated. The production of action potentials follows the all-or-nothing principle because they either occur completely or do not happen at all.
Brain Organization
Located in the medial temporal lobe of the brain, hippocampus...

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