Neurotransmitters are chemicals that act as messengers in the synaptic transmission process. They are essential for human health and any imbalance in their activities can cause serious mental disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia, and Alzheimer’s disease. Hence, monitoring the concentrations of various neurotransmitters is of great importance in studying and diagnosing such mental illnesses. Recently, many researchers have explored the use of unique materials for developing biosensors for both in vivo and ex vivo neurotransmitter detection. A combination of nanomaterials, polymers, and biomolecules were incorporated to implement such sensor devices. For in vivo detection, electrochemical sensing has been commonly applied, with fast-scan cyclic voltammetry being the most promising technique to date, due to the advantages such as easy miniaturization, simple device architecture, and high sensitivity. However, the main challenges for in vivo electrochemical neurotransmitter sensors are limited target selectivity, large background signal and noise, and device fouling and degradation over time. Therefore, achieving simultaneous detection of multiple neurotransmitters in real time with long-term stability remains the focus of research. The purpose of this review paper is to summarize the recently developed sensing techniques with the focus on neurotransmitters as the target analyte, and to discuss the outlook of simultaneous detection of multiple neurotransmitter species. This paper is organized as follows: firstly, the common materials used for developing neurotransmitter sensors are discussed. Secondly, several sensor surface modification approaches to enhance sensing performance are reviewed. Finally, we discuss recent developments in the simultaneous detection capability of multiple neurotransmitters.
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