An electrical synapse is a mechanical and electrically conductive link between two abutting neuron cells that is formed at a narrow gap between the pre- and postsynaptic cells known as a gap junction. At gap junctions, such cells approach within about 3.5 nm of each other (Kandel et al. 2000), a much shorter distance than the 20 to 40 nm distance that separates cells at chemical synapse (Hormuzdi et al. 2004). In organisms, electrical synapse-based systems co-exist with chemical synapses. Compared to chemical synapses, electrical synapses conduct nerve impulses faster, but unlike chemical synapses they do not have gain (the signal in the post synaptic neuron is always smaller than that of the originating neuron). Electrical synapses are often found in neural systems that require the fastest possible response, such as defensive reflexes. An important characteristic of electrical synapses is that most of the time, they are bidirectional, i.e. they allow impulse transmission in either direction
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