Communication: neuronal and hormonal

In order for plants and animals to survive they must react to changes in their external (and internal) environment. Mechanisms are in place to detect changes and bring about responses through communication systems. Whilst animals have both neuronal and hormonal communication mechanisms, plants only have hormone like substances.

Students are often asked to compare the similarities and differences between neuronal and hormonal communication. Obviously this topic links closely with homeostasis and many resources listed in that topic will also be of value here.

Students at A level are required to have a detailed understanding of the structure and function of the mammalian nervous system. Students must appreciate the basic concept that a nerve impulse is specific to a target cell only because it releases a chemical messenger directly onto it, producing a response that is usually rapid, short-lived and localised. Students should also understand how electrical impulses are transmitted along the cell surface membrane, what is meant by resting potential and the sequence of events during an action potential. Some specifications require students to explain the effects of certain drugs on nerve impulses.

Whilst this list provides a source of information and ideas for experimental work, it is important to note that recommendations can date very quickly. Do NOT follow suggestions which conflict with current advice from CLEAPSS, SSERC or other recent safety guides. eLibrary users are responsible for ensuring that any activity, including practical work, which they carry out is consistent with current regulations related to Health and Safety and that they carry an appropriate risk assessment. Further information is provided in our Health and Safety guidance.