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Formation of the neuromuscular junction (NMJ), a synapse between a motor neuron and muscle fiber, has been used as a model system to study synaptogenesis in general. This is because studying the formation of synapses in the central nervous system has proved much more challenging than in the periphery.


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Central synapses are much smaller (about $\frac{1}{100}$ the size of the NMJ).


Synaptic density is much greater in the brain than in the muscle.


Central synapses display a variety of structures, many of which are different from the tripartite structure of the NMJ that consists of presynaptic release sites, the synaptic cleft, and the postsynaptic membrane.


Typical muscle fiber is innervated by just one axon that utilizes just one type of neurotransmitter, while central neurons receive inputs from multiple afferent cells that utilize multiple types of neurotransmitters, often times within the same synapse.

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