Michelle K. answered 11/30/22
Experienced nurse/Med Student
This is dependent on the neurotransmitter. Neurotransmitters are exocytosed into the synaptic cleft and bind to a receptor on the post synaptic nerve. Glutamate is the most abundant excitatory neurotransmitter in the CNS and works by binding a couple of different receptors, but the end result is that it allows for positively charged ions to enter the cell, thus raising the membrane potential. The increased membrane potential in the post synaptic neuron then allows for a depolarization of the nerve and a signal to be transmitted. However, there are also inhibitory neurotransmitters such as GABA. These are released in a a similar way and also bind to their receptors on the postsynaptic membrane, but they allow for negatively charged ions to enter the post synaptic neuron. This hyperpolarizes the cell and prevents a depolarization, thus inhibiting a signal to be sent through that neuron. This is a complicated topic, but these are the basic concepts of how neurotransmitters work overall.