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Leslie L. Iversen

, Susan D. Iversen

, Floyd E. Bloom

, and Robert H. Roth

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date: 27 January 2021

The neurophysiological activity of acetylcholine (ACh) has been known since the early 19th century and its neurotransmitter role since the mid-1920s. With this long history, it is not surprising that students assume everything is already known about this transmitter. The main reason ACh assumed an early prominent role in guiding studies of neurotransmitters is the ease with which ACh can be studied. ACh is the transmitter at the neuromuscular junction, and thus both nerve terminal and its target can be readily accessed for experimental manipulations. Subsequent investigations also focused on the superior cervical ganglion, another peripheral site that was also easy to isolate and study. Lessons learned from experiments conducted on these peripheral tissues shaped our early approaches to defining the characteristics of neurotransmitters and neurotransmission.

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