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Chemistry of the nervous system.



the study of the biochemistry of the nervous system. Neurochemistry is concerned with the chemical composition and metabolism of nerve tissue.

Neurochemistry differs from the biochemistry of the other organs and tissues because the nerve tissue and the various divisions of the nervous system are so highly heterogeneous in their function, biochemistry, and morphology (the nervous system consists of two types of cells—neurons and neuroglia). Research using individual cells or very small tissue specimens is of particular value and requires the use of special ultramicrochemical methods. The development of neurochemistry in the USSR is mainly associated with A. V. Palladin’s work, carried out from 1922 to 1972, and G. E. Vladimirov’s research during the years 1942 to 1960. Evolutionary neurochemistry is associated with the research that E. M. Kreps initiated in 1945.

The topics studied in neurochemistry can be divided into four specific areas of interest: (1) the biochemistry of the transmission of nerve impulses in the synapses and the related metabolism of the chemical transmitters, (2) the biochemistry of neurotrophic influences; (3) the biochemical effects of external stimuli on the receptors of the sense organs, and (4) the influence of hormones and other agents transported by the blood, as well as the influence of many pharmacological agents on the metabolism of the nervous system. Functional neurochemistry is concerned with the interrelationship between biochemical and physiological processes in the nervous system, as well as with the biochemistry of excitation and inhibition, sleep, memory, and learning.

Neurochemistry has important practical applications in neuropharmacology (particularily psychopharmacology), in neuropathology, and in psychiatry. In the USSR, neurochemical research is conducted at universities and medical institutes, as well as at many institutes that are attached to the republic academies and to the Academy of Sciences of the USSR. Abroad, research is undertaken at many institutions, including the Institute of Physiology of the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences in Prague, the universities of Belgrade (Socialist Federated Republic of Yugoslavia) and Leipzig (German Democratic Republic); the Institute for Neurochemistry of New York State; the Center for Neurochemistry in Strasbourg, France; and Keio University in Tokyo, Japan. All-Union conferences on neurochemistry have been held regularly since 1953. The international journal that is concerned with problems of neurochemistry is the Journal of Neurochemistry, first issued in 1956.


McIlwain, H. Biokhimiia i tsentral’naia nervnaia sistema. Moscow, 1962.
(Translated from English.)
Vladimirov, G. E., and N. S. Panteleeva. Funktsional’naia biokhimiia. Leningrad, 1965.
Goncharova, E. E., N. M. Poliakova, and Ts. M. Shtutman. Biokhimiia nervnoi sistemy. Bibliograficheskii ukazatel’otechestvennoi literatury, 1868–1954. Kiev, 1957.
Gaito, J. Molekuliarnaia psikhobiologiia. Moscow, 1969. (Translated from English.)
Palladin, A. V., Ia. V. Belik, and N. M. Poliakova. Belki golovnogo mozga i ikh obmen. Kiev, 1972.
Handbook of Neurochemistry, vols. 1–7. New York-London, 1969–72.


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