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Neurologic Physiology And Pathophysiology

Discover the intricate workings of the human brain, unraveling the mysteries of neurologic physiology and pathophysiology, and unlock fascinating insights into the complexities of the mind.

USMLE Guide: Neurologic Physiology And Pathophysiology


Neurologic Physiology and Pathophysiology is a crucial topic for the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). This guide aims to provide an overview of the key concepts and points to focus on when studying this subject. Using markdown, we will structure the guide in an organized manner for easy navigation and understanding.

Table of Contents

  1. Neurologic Physiology
  2. Neurologic Pathophysiology

Neurologic Physiology

Neurologic Physiology deals with the normal functioning and processes of the nervous system. Understanding the fundamentals of neurologic physiology is essential for comprehending pathophysiological conditions.

Neurons and Neurotransmission

Neurons are the basic building blocks of the nervous system and are responsible for transmitting electrical signals. Key points to focus on include:

  • Structure of a neuron (cell body, dendrites, axons)
  • Types of neurons (sensory, motor, interneurons)
  • resting membrane potential and ion channels
  • Graded potential and summation
  • Excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitters

Synaptic Transmission

Synaptic transmission is the process by which neurons communicate with each other through neurotransmitters. Important concepts to understand include:

  • Pre-synaptic and post-synaptic neurons
  • Release and reuptake of neurotransmitters
  • Excitatory and inhibitory synapses
  • Neurotransmitter receptors (ionotropic and metabotropic)
  • Neurotransmitter pathways (dopaminergic, serotonergic, etc.)

Action Potential

Action potential refers to the electrical impulse generated by neurons to transmit signals over long distances. Key aspects to grasp include:

  • Depolarization, repolarization, and hyperpolarization
  • Threshold and all-or-none principle
  • Voltage-gated ion channels (sodium and potassium)
  • Saltatory conduction in myelinated neurons
  • Refractory periods


Understanding the different neurotransmitters and their functions is essential in neurologic physiology. Focus on the following neurotransmitters:

  • Acetylcholine (ACh)
  • Dopamine
  • Serotonin
  • Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)
  • Glutamate

Neurologic Pathophysiology

Neurologic Pathophysiology deals with the abnormal functioning of the nervous system, often resulting in various neurological disorders. Familiarize yourself with the following conditions:

Neurodegenerative Diseases

Neurodegenerative diseases involve the progressive degeneration and dysfunction of neurons. Key diseases to study include:

  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Huntington's disease
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)


Stroke refers to the interruption of blood flow to the brain, leading to brain damage. Focus on the following aspects:

  • Ischemic stroke vs. hemorrhagic stroke
  • Risk factors and prevention
  • Thrombolytic therapy (tPA)
  • Transient ischemic attack (TIA)
  • Rehabilitation and recovery

Traumatic Brain Injury

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs due to external forces impacting the brain. Important points to consider:

  • Concussion and post-concussion syndrome
  • Contusion and hemorrhage
  • Diffuse axonal injury (DAI)
  • Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS)
  • Management and long-term effects


Epilepsy is a disorder characterized by recurrent seizures. Focus on the following aspects:

  • Types of seizures (generalized vs. focal)
  • Aura and prodrome
  • antiepileptic drugs (AEDs)
  • Status epilepticus
  • Surgical management (lobectomy, vagus nerve stimulation)


Neurologic Physiology and Pathophysiology is a critical topic for the USMLE. By understanding the fundamental principles of neurologic physiology and the pathophysiology of various neurological disorders, you will be well-prepared to tackle related questions on the exam. Remember to review and practice regularly to strengthen your knowledge and retention.

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