Matter & Energy

Matter is composed of atoms or groups of atoms called molecules. The arrangement of particles in a material depends on the physical state of the substance. In a solid, particles form a compact structure that resists flow. Particles in a liquid have more energy than those in a solid. They can flow past one another, but they remain close. Particles in a gas have the most energy. They move rapidly and are separated from one another by relatively large distances.


Serotonin, neurotransmitter, or chemical that transmits messages across the synapses, or gaps, between adjacent cells. Among its many functions, serotonin is released from blood cells called platelets to activate blood vessel constriction and blood clotting. In the gastrointestinal tract, serotonin inhibits gastric acid production and stimulates muscle contraction in the intestinal wall. Its functions in the central nervous system and effects on human behavior—including mood, memory, and appetite control—have been the subject of a great deal of research. This intensive study of serotonin has revealed important knowledge about the serotonin-related cause and treatment of many illnesses.

Serotonin is produced in the brain from the amino acid tryptophan, which is derived from foods high in protein, such as meat and dairy products. Tryptophan is transported to the brain, where it is broken down by enzymes to produce serotonin. In the process of neurotransmission, serotonin is transferred from one nerve cell, or neuron, to another, triggering an electrical impulse that stimulates or inhibits cell activity as needed. Serotonin is then reabsorbed by the first neuron, in a process known as reuptake, where it is recycled and used again or converted into an inactive chemical form and excreted.