Medicine (MD/DO)
Neurology, Ophthalmology & Otology
Fundamentals of Nervous System Physiology
Electrical Synapse

Master Electrical Synapse with Picmonic for Medicine

With Picmonic, facts become pictures. We've taken what the science shows - image mnemonics work - but we've boosted the effectiveness by building and associating memorable characters, interesting audio stories, and built-in quizzing.

Electrical Synapse

Recommended Picmonics

picmonic thumbnail
Chemical Synapse
picmonic thumbnail
Neuron Resting Potential
picmonic thumbnail
Neuron Action Potential Initiation
picmonic thumbnail
Neuron Action Potential Propagation
picmonic thumbnail
Autonomic Nervous System

Electrical Synapse

Electrical Sign Snapped
An electrical synapse is an alternative to the chemical synapses found throughout the nervous system. Electrical synapses are found typically in cardiac and smooth muscle cells. They are characterized by the connection of the cytoplasm of a presynaptic and postsynaptic cell through channels. Presynaptic sodium floods through the gap junction, an intercellular connection. This sodium influx in the postsynaptic cell causes action potential generation, just as if the sodium flooded in through traditional voltage-gated channels. Two differences between electrical and chemical synapses are that signals can be transmitted in either direction with electrical synapses, whereas chemical synapses can only transmit action potentials in one direction. Additionally, transmission of the signal is much faster because of the short distance in between cells and because action potential generation does not depend on a neurotransmitter crossing the synaptic cleft and binding to a receptor.
Cardiac and Smooth Muscle Location
Heart-muscle with vascular intestine Smoothie

Electrical synapses are found typically in cardiac and smooth muscle cells.

Fast Transmission

Transmission is also faster because sodium can influx faster, through connected cytoplasm, than neurotransmitter can cross the synaptic cleft and bind to receptors.


With electrical synapses, the action potential can travel in either direction (either cell can be presynaptic or postsynaptic). This is impossible in cells with chemical synapses because the signal has to travel from the dendrites to the nerve terminal.

Presynaptic Na+ Floods Through Gap Junction
Priest Salt-shaker Flood through Gap in teeth

Presynaptic sodium floods through the gap junction, an intercellular connection that allows for molecules and ions to travel between the cytoplasm of the presynaptic and postsynaptic cells.

Na+ Influx Initiates Postsynaptic Action Potential
Salt-shaker hits button and Initiates P-spring release

Sodium influx in the postsynaptic cell generates an action potential, just like the one generated by sodium influx through voltage-gated sodium channels.


Take the Electrical Synapse Quiz

Picmonic's rapid review multiple-choice quiz allows you to assess your knowledge.

It's worth every penny

Our Story Mnemonics Increase Mastery and Retention

Memorize facts with phonetic mnemonics

Unforgettable characters with concise but impactful videos (2-4 min each)

Memorize facts with phonetic mnemonics

Ace Your Medicine (MD/DO) Classes & Exams with Picmonic:

Over 1,890,000 students use Picmonic’s picture mnemonics to improve knowledge, retention, and exam performance.

Choose the #1 Medicine (MD/DO) student study app.

Picmonic for Medicine (MD/DO) covers information that is relevant to your entire Medicine (MD/DO) education. Whether you’re studying for your classes or getting ready to conquer the USMLE Step 1, USMLE Step 2 CK, COMLEX Level 1, or COMLEX Level 2, we’re here to help.

Works better than traditional Medicine (MD/DO) flashcards.

Research shows that students who use Picmonic see a 331% improvement in memory retention and a 50% improvement in test scores.