Just as it moves rapidly from the lungs into the bloodstream, nicotine also easily diffuses through capillary walls. It then migrates to the spaces surrounding neurones – ganglion cells that transmit nerve impulses throughout the nervous system. These impulses are the basis for our thoughts, feelings, and moods. To transmit nerve impulses to its neighbour, a neurone releases chemical messengers known as neurotransmitters. Like nicotine molecules, the neurotransmitters drift into the so-called synaptic space
between neurones, ready to latch onto the receiving neurone and thus deliver a chemical “message” that triggers an electrical impulse.
The neurotransmitters bind onto receptors on the surface of the recipient neurone. This opens channels in the cell surface through which enter ions, or charged atoms, of sodium. This generates a current across the membrane of the receiving cell, which completes delivery of the “message”. An accomplished mimic, nicotine competes with the neurotransmitters to bind to the receptors. It wins and, like the vanquished chemical, opens ion channels that let sodium ions into the cell. But there’s a lot more nicotine around
than the original transmitter, so a much larger current spreads across the membrane. This bigger current causes increased electrical impulses to travel along certain neurones. With repeated smoking, the neurones adapt to this increased electrical activity, and the smoker becomes dependent on the nicotine.
Questions 1 – 7
1. Although nicotine is probably the well-known chemical in cigarettes, it is not necessarily the one that changes the psyche of the smoker when cigarettes are smoked.
2. In spite of the difficulties, according to the text more than thirty-five million people a year give up smoking.
3. It has been shown that nicotine in cigarettes can improve people’s abilities to perform some actions more quickly.
4. Added ammonia in cigarettes allows smokers to inhale more nicotin大学英语四六级考试