More Brain Chemistry
Continuing with the theme of beaded neurotransmitters, I wove a pair of earrings in the chemical structure of γ-Aminobutyric acid, aka GABA. I used the same color palette that I used previously for my endorphin necklace, so the two pieces form a matching set.
GABA acts as the major inhibitory neurotransmitter in the nervous system; it essentially acts to calm down neurons, and it's also involved in the regulation of muscle tone. It doesn't have big name recognition like the other neurotransmitters that I've covered on this blog such as serotonin, dopamine, and the endorphins, but it's still an important part of brain function.
From a structural point of view, GABA is relatively simple. It has four carbon atoms connected to each other in a chain, with one nitrogen atom at one end, and two oxygen atoms on the other end. The carbon atoms not connected to the oxygen atoms each have two hydrogen atoms, while the nitrogen atom can have two or three. The oxygen atoms, paired with one carbon atom in the arrangement shown in this molecule, all form what organic chemists call a carboxyl group.
I've depicted this molecule as a zwitterion, which is a neutral molecule that has both a positive charge and a negative charge. The positive charge sits on the nitrogen atom, while the negative charge is shared among the atoms of the carboxyl group.
A Flexible Molecule
The GABA molecule is very flexible, which is important to its biological function. It makes for a lacy pair of earrings!
I'm thinking that it would make a good introductory project to the realm of 3D beaded molecules. What do you think? Would you be interested in learning how to make your own GABA earrings?