Frontiers Media

Frontiers Media SA is an academic publisher of peer-reviewed open access scientific journals[2] currently active in science, technology, and medicine. It was founded in 2007 by a group of neuroscientists,[3] including Henry and Kamila Markram, and later expanded to other academic fields. Frontiers is based in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Frontiers Media was, controversially, included in Jeffrey Beall's list of potential predatory open access publishers[4] and has been accused of using email spam.[5] The publisher has "a history of badly handled and controversial retractions and publishing decisions".[6] Nevertheless, both COPE and OASPA have retained Frontiers as members after concerns were raised.[7][8]

Frontiers Media
Frontiers Logo 2
Parent companyHoltzbrinck Publishing Group
FounderKamila Markram and Henry Markram[1]
Country of originSwitzerland
Headquarters locationLausanne
Key peopleKamila Markram, CEO
Publication typesOpen access scientific journals
Nonfiction topicsMedicine, life sciences, technology
No. of employees200[1]


The first journal published was Frontiers in Neuroscience, which opened for submission as a beta version in 2007.[9] In 2010, Frontiers launched a series of another eleven journals in medicine and science. In February 2012, the Frontiers Research Network was launched,[10] a social networking platform for researchers, intended to disseminate the open access articles published in the Frontiers journals, and to provide related conferences, blogs, news, video lectures and job postings.[11]

In February 2013, the Nature Publishing Group (NPG) acquired a controlling interest in Frontiers Media.[12] (NPG is a subsidiary of Holtzbrinck Publishing Group.[13])

Frontiers for Young Minds was launched in November 2013 during the Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in collaboration with NPG as a web-based science journal that involves young people in the review of scientific articles with the help of scientists who act as mentors.[14][15] In early September 2014, Frontiers received the ALPSP Gold Award for Innovation in Publishing from the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers.[16]

List of journals

The Frontiers journals use open peer review, where the names of reviewers of accepted articles are made public.[17] As of 2015,[18] 16 of their journals had impact factors, a number that grew to 24 in 2017.[19] In February 2016, the series contained 54 journals,[20] a number that grew to 59 by 2017.[21] The collection of all the journals in the series is sometimes considered a megajournal, as is the BioMed Central series.[20][22][23] Some journals, such as Frontiers in Human Neuroscience[24] or Frontiers in Microbiology[25] are considered megajournals on their own.

  • Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience
  • Frontiers in Applied Mathematics and Statistics
  • Frontiers in Astronomy and Space Sciences
  • Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology
  • Frontiers in Built Environment
  • Frontiers in Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology
  • Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology
  • Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience
  • Frontiers in Chemistry
  • Frontiers in Communication
  • Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience
  • Frontiers in Digital Humanities
  • Frontiers in Earth Science
  • Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution
  • Frontiers in Education
  • Frontiers in Endocrinology
  • Frontiers in Energy Research
  • Frontiers in Environmental Science
  • Frontiers in Evolutionary Neuroscience
  • Frontiers in Genetics
  • Frontiers in Human Neuroscience
  • Frontiers in ICT
  • Frontiers in Immunology
  • Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience
  • Frontiers in Marine Science
  • Frontiers in Materials
  • Frontiers in Mechanical Engineering
  • Frontiers in Medicine
  • Frontiers in Microbiology
  • Frontiers in Molecular Biosciences
  • Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience
  • Frontiers in Neural Circuits
  • Frontiers in Neuroanatomy
  • Frontiers in Neuroenergetics
  • Frontiers in Neuroengineering
  • Frontiers in Neuroinformatics
  • Frontiers in Neurology
  • Frontiers in Neurorobotics
  • Frontiers in Neuroscience
  • Frontiers in Nutrition
  • Frontiers in Oncology
  • Frontiers in Pediatrics
  • Frontiers in Pharmacology
  • Frontiers in Physics
  • Frontiers in Physiology
  • Frontiers in Plant Science
  • Frontiers in Psychiatry
  • Frontiers in Psychology
  • Frontiers in Public Health
  • Frontiers in Research Metrics and Analytics
  • Frontiers in Robotics and AI
  • Frontiers in Sociology
  • Frontiers in Surgery
  • Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems
  • Frontiers in Synaptic Neuroscience
  • Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience
  • Frontiers in Veterinary Science


In April 2013, Frontiers in Psychology retracted a controversial article linking climate change denialism and "conspiracist ideation"; the retraction was itself also controversial and led to the resignations of at least three editors.[26][27][28]

In November 2013 an article in SciELO reported a rejection rate of 20% of manuscripts, compared to Nature which rejected 90% of them, but also noted that Frontiers in Pharmacology of Anti-Cancer Drugs did not fall for the 2013 Science sting.[29]

In late September, Frontiers in Public Health published a controversial article that supported HIV denialism; three days later the publisher issued a statement of concern and announced an investigation into the review process of the article.[30] It was eventually decided that the article would not be retracted but instead was reclassified as an opinion piece.[31] Around November 2014 the collaboration between NPG and Frontiers quietly ended when the two groups "made the decision ... to make a clean separation and never to mention again that [Nature Publishing Group] has some kind of involvement in Frontiers."[32]

In May 2015, Frontiers Media removed the entire editorial boards of Frontiers in Medicine and Frontiers in Cardiovascular Medicine after editors complained that Frontiers Media staff were "interfering with editorial decisions and violating core principles of medical publishing".[32]

In October 2015, Frontiers was added to Jeffrey Beall's list of "Potential, possible, or probable" predatory open-access publishers.[4][33][9] The inclusion was met with backlash amongst some researchers.[4] In July 2016 Beall recommended that academics not publish their work in Frontiers journals, stating "the fringe science published in Frontiers journals stigmatizes the honest research submitted and published there",[34] and in October of that year Beall reported that reviewers have called the review process "merely for show".[35]

In October 2015, Frontiers in collaboration with NPG launched Loop, a research network that is open to be integrated into any publisher’s or academic organization's website,[36][37] and Loop soon included a collaboration with ORCID to link and synchronize researcher profile information.[38] The Technical University of Madrid was the first university to link their Loop profile to their institutional website.[39] Also in October 2015 the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) said that "there have been vigorous discussions about, and some editors are uncomfortable with, the editorial processes at Frontiers" but that "the processes are declared clearly on the publisher's site and we do not believe there is any attempt to deceive either editors or authors about these processes".[7] Frontiers is a COPE member and one of its employees sits on COPE's council.[7]

In September 2016 Frontiers demanded that the university where Beall worked force him to retract his claims.[40][41]

In November 2016 a paper linking vaccines to autism was retracted from a Frontiers journal.[42] Also in November 2016, a study published analyzing predatory publishing by gathering datasets with and without Frontiers journals.[43]

In 2017, further editors were removed, allegedly for their rejection rate being high.[44] A study published in eLife in November 2017 showed that "women are underrepresented in the peer-review process", and that "editors of both genders operate with substantial same-gender preference".[17] In December 2017 Adam Marcus and Ivan Oransky wrote in the magazine Nautilus that the acceptance rate of manuscripts in Frontiers journals was near 90%.[45]

According to Allison and James Kaufman in the 2018 book Pseudoscience: The Conspiracy Against Science, "Frontiers has used an in-house journals management software that does not give reviewers the option to recommend the rejection of manuscripts" and that the "system is setup to make it almost impossible to reject papers".[46]


  1. ^ a b (in French) Philippe Le Bé, "« Avec Frontiers, les travaux des chercheurs sont publiés rapidement et de manière équitable »", Le Temps, published on-line on Sunday 10 April 2016 (page visited on 10 April 2016).
  2. ^ "Members: OA Professional Publishing Organizations". Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA). Retrieved 2013-02-04.
  3. ^ Peter Suber, ed. (2007-10-30). "Open Access News: New series of OA journals in neuroscience". Retrieved 2013-03-04.
  4. ^ a b c Bloudoff-Indelicato M (2015). "Backlash after Frontiers journals added to list of questionable publishers". Nature. 525 (7575): 613. Bibcode:2015Natur.526..613B. doi:10.1038/526613f.
  5. ^ Jeffrey Beall (2013-11-05). "I get complaints about Frontiers". Scholarly Open Access. Archived from the original on 2014-05-08.
  6. ^ Megan Scudellari (2015-06-02). ""[T]hese things can happen in every lab:" Mutant plant paper uprooted after authors correct their own findings". Retraction Watch.
  7. ^ a b c "COPE statement on Frontiers". COPE. October 2015. Retrieved 2015-11-12. COPE October 2015 News Index
  8. ^ Claire Redhead (2015-12-24). "Frontiers membership of OASPA". Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association.
  9. ^ a b Schneider, Leonid (28 October 2015). "Is Frontiers a potential predatory publisher?". For Better Science. Retrieved 2017-03-14.
  10. ^ "Frontiers launches Social Networking for Scientists". Frontiers Media. 9 February 2012.
  11. ^ "Events". Frontiers Media. Retrieved 2015-10-21.
  12. ^ P., J. (2013-02-27). "Changing Nature". The Economist. Retrieved 2014-12-17.
  13. ^ Van Noorden, Richard. "Nature owner merges with publishing giant". Nature News & Comment. Retrieved 2016-01-14.
  14. ^ "Frontiers for Young Minds Launches at USA Science and Engineering Festival". Frontiers. Retrieved 2015-10-21.
  15. ^ "Young Minds on Scientific American". Scientific American. Retrieved 2015-10-21.
  16. ^ Page, Benedicte (September 11, 2014). "Frontiers is major winner at ALPSP innovation awards | The Bookseller". The Book Seller.
  17. ^ a b Helmer, Markus; Schottdorf, Manuel; Neef, Andreas; Battaglia, Demian (21 March 2017). "Gender bias in scholarly peer review". eLife. 6. doi:10.7554/elife.21718.
  18. ^ "Journal Impact Factor 2014". CiteFactor. Retrieved 2015-12-24.
  19. ^ 2016 Journal Citation Reports. Web of Science (Science ed.). Clarivate Analytics. 2017.
  20. ^ a b Spezi, Valerie; Wakeling, Simon; Pinfield, Stephen; Creaser, Claire; Fry, Jenny; Willett, Peter (2017). "Open-access mega-journals: The future of scholarly communication or academic dumping ground? A review" (PDF). Journal of Documentation. 73 (2): 263–283. doi:10.1108/JD-06-2016-0082. Series, such as the BMC Series ... or Frontiers in [...] Series ... might, taken as a whole, be viewed as a broad disciplinary scope journal. This is particularly the case when series titles seem to be marketed and managed as a coherent set rather than as separate titles.
  21. ^ "Journals A-Z". Frontiers Media. Retrieved 23 March 2018.
  22. ^ Domnina, T. N. (2016). "A megajournal as a new type of scientific publication". Scientific and Technical Information Processing. 43 (4): 241–250. doi:10.3103/S0147688216040079.
  23. ^ Binfield, Peter (2013-12-17). "Novel scholarly journal concepts". In Bartling, S.; Friesike, S. Opening Science. Springer Science+Business Media. pp. 155–163. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-00026-8_10. ISBN 978-3-319-00025-1.
  24. ^ Ware, Mark; Mabe, Michael (2015). "The STM Report: An overview of scientific and scholarly journal publishing" (PDF). International Association of Scientific, Technical, and Medical Publishers.
  25. ^ Schloss, Patrick D.; Johnston, Mark; Casadevall, Arturo (2017-09-26). "Support science by publishing in scientific society journals". mBio. 8 (5): e01633&#45, 17. doi:10.1128/mBio.01633-17. PMID 28951482.
  26. ^ "Chief specialty editor resigns from Frontiers in wake of controversial retraction". Retraction Watch. Retrieved 2015-10-21.
  27. ^ Herndon, J. Marvin (2016-06-30). "Human and Environmental Dangers Posed by Ongoing Global Tropospheric Aerosolized Particulates for Weather Modification". Front. Public Health. 4 (139): 139. doi:10.3389/fpubh.2016.00139. PMC 4927569. PMID 27433467. (retracted)
  28. ^ "Frontiers | Retraction: Human and Environmental Dangers Posed by Ongoing Global Tropospheric Aerosolized Particulates for Weather Modification | Environmental Health". Frontiers in Public Health. 4. 2016. doi:10.3389/fpubh.2016.00156. PMID 27453892.
  29. ^ Nassi-Calò, Lilian (5 November 2013). "Controversial Article in The Journal "Science" exposes the weaknesses of Peer-Review in a set of Open Access Journals". SciELO in Perspective.
  30. ^ "Publisher issues statement of concern about HIV denial paper, launches investigation". Retraction Watch. Retrieved 2015-10-21.
  31. ^ Ferguson, Cat (24 February 2015). "Frontiers lets HIV denial article stand, reclassifies it as "opinion"". Retraction Watch.
  32. ^ a b Enserink, Martin (20 May 2015). "Open-access publisher sacks 31 editors amid fierce row over independence". Science. doi:10.1126/science.aac4629.
  33. ^ Beall, Jeffrey. "LIST OF PUBLISHERS". Scholarly Open Access. Archived from the original on 2017-01-12. Retrieved 2015-10-21.
  34. ^ Beall, Jeffrey (14 July 2016). "More Fringe Science from Borderline Publisher Frontiers". Scholarly Open Access. Archived from the original on 9 August 2016.
  35. ^ Beall, Jeffrey. "Reviewer to Frontiers: Your Review Process is Merely for Show — I quit". Scholarly Open Access. Archived from the original on 27 November 2016. Retrieved 26 November 2016.
  36. ^ "Frontiers Loop". Frontiers. Retrieved 2015-10-21.
  37. ^ "Frontiers launches Loop social network". The Bookseller. Retrieved 2015-10-21.
  38. ^ "ORCID and Loop new researcher profile system". Orcid. Retrieved 2015-10-26.
  39. ^ "UPM leads way as first university to integrate Loop". loop. Retrieved 2015-10-26.
  40. ^ Schneider, Leonid. "Beall-listed Frontiers empire strikes back". For Better Science. Retrieved 26 November 2016. Frontiers disagrees with this librarian’s privately held views, the publisher demands of his academic employer to impose disciplinary measures or coercion against Beall.
  41. ^ Basken, Paul (12 September 2017). "Why Beall's List Died — and What It Left Unresolved About Open Access". The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved 2017-03-14.
  42. ^ Chawla, Dalmeet Singh (2016-11-28). "Study linking vaccines to autism pulled following heavy criticism". Retraction Watch. Retrieved 2018-03-14.
  43. ^ Savina, Tatiana; Sterligov, Ivan (24 November 2016). "Prevalence of Potentially Predatory Publishing in Scopus on the Country Level" (PDF). Ural Federal University. Retrieved 15 March 2018.
  44. ^ "Editor sacked over rejection rate: "not inline with Frontiers core principles"". For Better Science. 2018-03-06. Retrieved 2018-03-07.
  45. ^ Marcus, Adam; Oransky, Ivan (7 December 2017). "Why Garbage Science Gets Published". Nautilus.
  46. ^ Kaufman, Allison B.; Kaufman, James C. (2018). Pseudoscience: The Conspiracy Against Science. MIT Press. p. 292. ISBN 9780262037426.

External links


Agave (, UK also , Anglo-Hispanic: ) is a genus of monocots native to the hot and arid regions of Mexico and the Southwestern United States. Some Agave species are also native to tropical areas of South America. The genus Agave (from the Ancient Greek αγαυή, agauê) is primarily known for its succulent and xerophytic species that typically form large rosettes of strong, fleshy leaves. Plants in this genus may be considered perennial, because they require several to many years to mature and flower. However, most Agave species are more accurately described as monocarpic rosettes or multiannuals, since each individual rosette flowers only once and then dies (see semelparity); a small number of Agave species are polycarpic.Along with plants from the closely related genera Yucca, Hesperoyucca, and Hesperaloe, various Agave species are popular ornamental plants in hot/dry climates, as they require very little supplemental water to survive. Most Agave species grow very slowly. Some Agave species are known by the common name "century plant".

Alex Newell

Alex Eugene Newell (born August 20, 1992) is an American actor and singer. He is best known for playing the character Unique Adams on the Fox musical series Glee.

As a singer, Newell released tracks with Clean Bandit, Blonde and The Knocks. "This Ain't Over" is the first track on their 2016 debut EP, entitled POWER. He starred as Asaka in the Broadway revival of Once on This Island at the Circle in the Square Theater in 2018.


Anaerolineaceae is a family of methanogenic bacteria from the order of Anaerolineales.

Anaerolineaceae bacteria occur in marine sediments.


Aquimarina is a strictly aerobic and halophilic bacterial genus from the family of Flavobacteriaceae. Aquimarina can cause diseases in marine eukaryotes.

Debasis Chattopadhyay

Debasis Chattopadhyay (born 20 October 1967) is an Indian plant molecular biologist, geneticist and a scientist at the National Institute of Plant Genome Research (NIPGR). Known for his studies in the fields of plant stress biology and genomics, Chattopadhyay is an elected fellow of all the three major Indian science Academies namely the Indian Academy of Sciences, the Indian National Science Academy and the National Academy of Sciences, India. He is also an elected fellow of the West Bengal Academy of Science and Technology.Chattopadhyay did his doctoral studies at the University of Calcutta and after securing a PhD, moved to the US for his doctoral studies at the Cleveland Clinic. Subsequently, he joined the National Institute of Plant Genome Research, New Delhi where he holds the position of a Grade VII scientist. His research focus is on abiotic stress tolerance and genome sequencing of plants and he holds a US patent for Chimeric construct of mungbean yellow mosaic india virus (MYMIV) and its uses, a process he has co-developed with two of his colleagues at NIPGR. His studies have been documented by way of a number of articles and ResearchGate, an online repository of scientific articles has listed 83 of them. Besides, he has contributed chapters to books edited by others. He was chosen for the Prof. Umakant Sinha Memorial Award of the Indian Science Congress Association in 2006. The Department of Biotechnology of the Government of India awarded him the National Bioscience Award for Career Development, one of the highest Indian science awards, for his contributions to biosciences, in 2010. He received the NASI-Reliance Industries Platinum Jubliee Award in 2017. He is a recipient of Tata Innovation Fellowship in 2015.


Frontiers may refer to:

Frontier, areas near or beyond a boundary

Frontiers in Endocrinology

Frontiers in Endocrinology is a peer-reviewed open access scientific journal covering all aspects of endocrinology in 15 sections. It was established in 2010 and is published by Frontiers Media, who was included on Jeffrey Beall's now-defunct list of "potential, possible, or probable predatory publishers". The editors-in-chief are Jeffrey M. P. Holly (University of Bristol) and Derek LeRoith, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai).

Frontiers in Plant Science

Frontiers in Plant Science is a peer-reviewed scientific journal covering all aspects of botany. It was established in 2010 and is published by Frontiers Media, who were included in Jeffrey Beall's now-defunct list of "potential, possible, or probable predatory publishers".. The editor-in-chief is Joshua L. Heazlewood (University of Melbourne). According to the Journal Citation Reports, the journal has a 2016 impact factor of 4.298.

Frontiers in Psychology

Frontiers in Psychology is a peer-reviewed open-access academic journal covering all aspects of psychology in 27 sections. It was established in 2010 and is published by Frontiers Media, who were included in Jeffrey Beall's now-defunct list of "potential, possible, or probable predatory publishers". The editor-in-chief is Axel Cleeremans (Université libre de Bruxelles).


G protein-coupled receptor 35 also known as GPR35 is a G protein-coupled receptor which in humans is encoded by the GPR35 gene. Heightened expression of GPR35 is found in immune and gastrointestinal tissues, including the crypts of Lieberkühn.

Girdhar Kumar Pandey

Girdhar Kumar Pandey (born February 15, 1972) is an Indian molecular biologist, biochemist, biotechnologist, and a professor at the department of plant molecular biology of the South Campus of the University of Delhi. he is known for his studies on the signal transduction pathways in Arabidopsis (rockcress) and Oryza sativa (rice) and is an elected fellow of the National Academy of Sciences, India and the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences. The Department of Biotechnology of the Government of India awarded him the National Bioscience Award for Career Development, one of the highest Indian science awards, for his contributions to biosciences, in 2015.

Neuroinformatics (journal)

Neuroinformatics is a scientific journal published by Springer under the imprint Humana Press. As the title indicates it publishes articles about neuroinformatics.

The journal is indexed in a wide range of bibliographic databases, e.g., PubMed.

The Thomson Reuters Journal Citation Reports impact factor was reported to be just above 3 in 2012,

while Google Scholar reported its h5-index to be 20 in December 2013.

It has 3 Editors-in-Chiefs: Giorgio A. Ascoli, Erik De Schutter and David N. Kennedy.

A competing journal is Frontiers in Neuroinformatics published by Frontiers Media. That journal is fully open access. Neuroinformatics also has an open access option.

Performance science

Performance science is the multidisciplinary study of human performance. It draws together methodologies across numerous scientific disciplines, including those of biomechanics, economics, physiology, psychology, and sociology, to understand the fundamental skills, mechanisms, and outcomes of performance activities and experiences. It carries implications for various domains of skilled human activity, often performed under extreme stress and/or under the scrutiny of audiences or evaluators. These include performances across the arts, sport, education, and business, particularly those occupations involving the delivery of highly trained skills such as in surgery and management.

Predatory open-access publishing

Predatory open-access publishing, or sometimes write-only publishing, is an exploitative open-access academic publishing business model that involves charging publication fees to authors without providing the editorial and publishing services associated with legitimate journals (open access or not). The idea that they are "predatory" is based on the view that academics are tricked into publishing with them, though some authors may be aware that the journal is poor quality or even fraudulent. New scholars from developing countries are said to be especially at risk of being misled by predatory practices."Beall's List", a report that was regularly updated by Jeffrey Beall of the University of Colorado until January 2017, set forth criteria for categorizing publications as predatory. The list was taken offline by the author in January 2017. A demand by Frontiers Media to open a misconduct case against Beall was reported as the reason Beall closed the list, but an investigation by the university was closed with no findings. After the closure, other efforts to identify predatory publishing have sprouted, such as the paywalled Cabell's blacklist, as well as other lists (some based on the original listing by Beall).


PsychoPy is an open source software package, written in the Python programming language, for the generation of experiments for neuroscience and experimental psychology.Unlike most packages it provides users with a choice of interface; generate experiments by writing Python scripts or through a graphical interface which will generate a script for them (or by a combination of the two).

Its platform independence is achieved through the use of the wxPython widget library for the application and OpenGL for graphics calls. Psychopy grows in popularity and was started on more than 14,000 different computers in November, 2016.

Psychomotor learning

Psychomotor learning is the relationship between cognitive functions and physical movement. Psychomotor learning is demonstrated by physical skills such as movement, coordination, manipulation, dexterity, grace, strength, speed—actions which demonstrate the fine or gross motor skills, such as use of precision instruments or tools, and walking.

Behavioral examples include driving a car, throwing a ball, and playing a musical instrument. In psychomotor learning research, attention is given to the learning of coordinated activity involving the arms, hands, fingers, and feet, while verbal processes are not emphasized.

Rational design

In chemical biology and biomolecular engineering, rational design is the strategy of creating new molecules with a certain functionality, based upon the ability to predict how the molecule's structure will affect its behavior through physical models. This can be done either from scratch or by making calculated variations on a known structure, and is usually contrasted with directed evolution.


SciCrunch is a collaboratively edited knowledge base about scientific resources, a community portal for researchers and a content management system for data and databases. It is intended to provide a common source of data to the research community and the data about Research Resource Identifiers (RRIDs), which can be used in scientific publications. In some respect, it is for science and scholarly publishing, what Wikidata is for Wikimedia Foundation projects. Hosted by the University of California, San Diego, SciCrunch was also designed to help communities of researchers create their own portals to provide access to resources, databases and tools of relevance to their research areas


In the nervous system, a synapse is a structure that permits a neuron (or nerve cell) to pass an electrical or chemical signal to another neuron or to the target effector cell.

Santiago Ramón y Cajal proposed that neurons are not continuous throughout the body, yet still communicate with each other, an idea known as the neuron doctrine. The word "synapse" – from the Greek synapsis (συνάψις), meaning "conjunction", in turn from συνάπτεὶν (συν ("together") and ἅπτειν ("to fasten")) – was introduced in 1897 by the English neurophysiologist Charles Sherrington in Michael Foster's Textbook of Physiology. Sherrington struggled to find a good term that emphasized a union between two separate elements, and the actual term "synapse" was suggested by the English classical scholar Arthur Woollgar Verrall, a friend of Foster. Some authors generalize the concept of the synapse to include the communication from a neuron to any other cell type, such as to a motor cell, although such non-neuronal contacts may be referred to as junctions (a historically older term).

Synapses are essential to neuronal function: neurons are cells that are specialized to pass signals to individual target cells, and synapses are the means by which they do so. At a synapse, the plasma membrane of the signal-passing neuron (the presynaptic neuron) comes into close apposition with the membrane of the target (postsynaptic) cell. Both the presynaptic and postsynaptic sites contain extensive arrays of a molecular machinery that link the two membranes together and carry out the signaling process. In many synapses, the presynaptic part is located on an axon and the postsynaptic part is located on a dendrite or soma. Astrocytes also exchange information with the synaptic neurons, responding to synaptic activity and, in turn, regulating neurotransmission. Synapses (at least chemical synapses) are stabilized in position by synaptic adhesion molecules (SAMs) projecting from both the pre- and post-synaptic neuron and sticking together where they overlap; SAMs may also assist in the generation and functioning of synapses.

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