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Electric synapses are synapses that do not process information but simply foward one action potential from one neuron to the next. There are no neurotransmitters, no inhibitory and exitatory postsynaptic potentials that would cause different responses in the post-synapse.

So, I'm wondering: What are the biological advantages over just one long axon? My research has only told me the advantages over "normal" synapses (speed), but I couldn't find any advantage over just using one longer neuron which, I suppose, would be even faster.

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I can't answer this but just to consider: firstly, this may be a way to overcome the limit of length of an individual cell before intracellular transport of proteins and organelles becomes impracticable. Aside from this, the difference between one long neuron and two connected ones is that they are separated by a membrane and can have different interiors. This means different internal cell states e.g. signalling molecules, ion concentrations,... – Armatus May 26 '14 at 16:12

Having just read this article ( there are several advantages/functional reasons that seem apparent and important in having electrical synapses with gap junctions compared to just a very long neuron.

a) signals in electrical synapse can be bidirectional. b) electrical synapse synchronize electrical activity among populations of neurons. c) The large pores in gap junctions allows passage of ATP and other important intracellular metabolites, such as second messengers between neurons.

I'm sure there are plenty of other reasons but these should provide a better picture in terms of the functional significance of having electric synapses.

Hope this helps!

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Also. If there is one long neuron then the nucleus will have difficulty coping up with the maintenance of the cell – WYSIWYG May 26 '14 at 18:19

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