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Ganglion vs. Synapse: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Published on January 5, 2024
A ganglion is a cluster of nerve cell bodies, often forming a swelling on a nerve, while a synapse is a junction where nerve impulses pass between neurons.
Ganglion vs. Synapse

Key Differences

A ganglion is a group of neuron cell bodies located outside the central nervous system, serving as relay points for neural signals. A synapse, conversely, is the site where two neurons communicate, transmitting signals via chemical or electrical means.
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Ganglia often appear as small swellings along nerve paths and are crucial in the peripheral nervous system. Synapses are microscopic and cannot be seen without magnification, functioning as critical communication points between neurons.
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Ganglia play a key role in processing and relaying information from the body to the brain and vice versa. Synapses are essential for the transmission of nerve impulses from one neuron to another, facilitating neural communication.
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There are various types of ganglia, including sensory and autonomic ganglia, each serving different functions. Synapses also vary, including chemical and electrical synapses, each with unique mechanisms for transmitting signals.
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Disorders related to ganglia include ganglion cysts and neuropathies. Synaptic disorders include synaptic malfunction or degeneration, as seen in conditions like Alzheimer's disease.
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Comparison Chart

Definition

Cluster of nerve cell bodies
Junction between neurons
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Location

Outside the central nervous system
At the end of neurons
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Function

Relay and processing of neural signals
Transmission of nerve impulses
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Appearance

Visible swellings on nerves
Microscopic junctions
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Associated Disorders

Ganglion cysts, neuropathies
Synaptic malfunction, neurodegenerative diseases
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Ganglion and Synapse Definitions

Ganglion

A ganglion serves as a processing center for neural information.
The basal ganglia are involved in motor control and learning.
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Synapse

A synapse is a junction where neurons communicate.
Neurotransmitters are released at the synapse to transmit signals.
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Ganglion

Ganglia are key components in the peripheral nervous system.
Autonomic ganglia play a vital role in involuntary bodily functions.
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Synapse

Synapses allow for the transfer of information between neurons.
Learning involves the strengthening of certain synapses.
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Ganglion

Ganglia can sometimes form cysts, known as ganglion cysts.
A ganglion cyst can develop along tendons or joints.
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Synapse

Chemical synapses involve neurotransmitter release.
Serotonin is released at synapses in the brain.
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Ganglion

A ganglion is a cluster of nerve cells forming a nerve knot.
The dorsal root ganglion contains cell bodies of sensory neurons.
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Synapse

Electrical synapses transmit signals via ion channels.
Electrical synapses facilitate rapid signal transmission.
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Ganglion

Ganglia can be associated with certain types of nerve pain.
Abnormalities in a ganglion can lead to neuropathic pain.
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Synapse

Synaptic plasticity is crucial for memory and learning.
Synaptic plasticity refers to the ability of synapses to strengthen or weaken over time.
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Ganglion

A group of nerve cells forming a nerve center, especially one located outside the brain or spinal cord.
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Dec 10, 2023

Synapse

The junction across which a nerve impulse passes from an axon terminal to a neuron, muscle cell, or gland cell.
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Ganglion

(Medicine) A benign cystic lesion resembling a tumor, occurring in a tendon sheath or joint capsule.
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Synapse

To form a synapse.
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Ganglion

A center of power, activity, or energy.
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Synapse

To undergo synapsis.
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Ganglion

(neuroanatomy)
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Synapse

The junction between the terminal of a neuron and either another neuron or a muscle or gland cell, over which nerve impulses pass.
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Ganglion

An encapsulated collection of nerve cell bodies, typically linked by synapses, and often forming a swelling on a nerve fiber.
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Synapse

(intransitive) To form a synapse.
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Ganglion

Any of certain masses of gray matter in the central nervous system, as the basal ganglia.
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Synapse

(intransitive) To undergo synapsis.
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Ganglion

(transferred sense) A centre of intellectual or industrial force, activity, etc.
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Synapse

The junction between two neurons (axon-to-dendrite) or between a neuron and a muscle;
Nerve impulses cross a synapse through the action of neurotransmitters
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Ganglion

(pathology) A benign cystic tumour on a tendon sheath or joint capsule.
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Ganglion

A mass or knot of nervous matter, including nerve cells, usually forming an enlargement in the course of a nerve.
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Ganglion

A globular, hard, indolent tumor, situated somewhere on a tendon, and commonly formed by the effusion of a viscid fluid into it; - called also weeping sinew.
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Ganglion

An encapsulated neural structure consisting of a collection of cell bodies or neurons
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Repeatedly Asked Queries

What is a synapse?

A junction where two neurons communicate.
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Jan 05, 2024

What is a ganglion?

A group of nerve cell bodies outside the central nervous system.
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Where are ganglia located?

In the peripheral nervous system.
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What role do ganglia play?

They relay and process neural signals.
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Can you see a synapse?

No, they are microscopic.
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What disorders are associated with ganglia?

Ganglion cysts and neuropathies.
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What types of synapses are there?

Chemical and electrical synapses.
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What disorders are related to synapses?

Neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's.
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How many ganglia are in the human body?

Numerous, in various locations.
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Are ganglia unique to humans?

No, they are found in many animals.
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Can ganglia cause pain?

Yes, especially if they become inflamed or form cysts.
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Do synapses change over time?

Yes, they undergo plasticity, affecting learning and memory.
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Can ganglia be surgically removed?

Yes, in cases like ganglion cysts.
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Are all ganglia the same size?

No, they vary in size.
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What happens at a synapse?

Transmission of nerve impulses between neurons.
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How do drugs affect synapses?

They can alter neurotransmitter release or reception.
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Can ganglia regenerate?

They have limited regenerative capacity.
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What's the significance of synaptic plasticity?

It's key for adapting and learning new information.
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How are synapses crucial for brain function?

They facilitate communication and processing in the brain.
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What's the difference between a chemical and electrical synapse?

Chemical synapses use neurotransmitters, while electrical synapses use direct ion flow.
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About Author
Shumaila Saeed
Written by
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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