The ion channels activated by glutamate are divided into two classes. Those that are sensitive to N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) are designated NMDA receptors (NMDAR) while those activated by kainate and a-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxalone propionic acid (AMPA) are known as kainate/AMPA receptors (K/AMPAR). NMDA receptors are among the most studied receptors in neuroscience because they are involved in neuronal cell development and plasticity, a cellular correlate for learning. NMDA receptors are also implicated in several disorders of the central nervous system including epilepsy and ischemic neuronal cell death. NMDA receptors also appear to be a target for ethanol at physiological concentrations and therefore may play a significant role in alcoholism.
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