Glutamate is a key molecule in cellular metabolism. In humans, dietary proteins are broken down by digestion into amino acids, which serves as metabolic fuel for other functional roles in the body. Glutamate is the most abundant fast excitatory neurotransmitter in the mammalian nervous system. At chemical synapses, glutamate is stored in vesicles. Nerve impulses trigger release of glutamate from the pre-synaptic cell. In the opposing post-synaptic cell, glutamate receptors, such as the NMDA receptor, bind glutamate and are activated. Because of its role in synaptic plasticity, it is believed that glutamic acid is involved in cognitive functions like learning and memory in the brain.