Action potentials

SAN and those that simply conduct it non-pacemaker cells; e.

Action potentials

Because it varies in amplitude, the local potential is said to be graded.

Action Potentials

The greater the influx of positive charge—and, consequently, depolarization of the membrane—the higher the grade. This polarized state is created by a high concentration of positively charged sodium ions Action potentials the cell and a high concentration of negatively charged chloride ions as well as a lower concentration of positively charged potassium inside.

Action potentials

Changes in ion permeance underlying the action potentialElectrical potential is graded at left in millivolts, ion permeance at right in open channels per square millimetre.

When sodium channels open, the membrane depolarizes. When depolarization reaches the threshold potential, it triggers an action potential. In the generation of the action potential, stimulation of the cell by neurotransmitters or by sensory receptor cells partially opens channel-shaped protein molecules in the membrane.

Sodium diffuses into the cell, shifting that part of the membrane toward a less-negative polarization. Depolarization activates sodium channels in adjacent parts of the membrane, so that the impulse moves along the fibre.


If the entry of sodium into the fibre were not balanced by the exit of another ion of positive charge, an action potential could not decline from its peak value and return to the resting potential.

The declining phase of the action potential is caused by the closing of sodium channels and the opening of potassium channels, which allows a charge approximately equal to that brought into the cell to leave in the form of potassium ions. Subsequently, protein transport molecules pump sodium ions out of the cell and potassium ions in.

This restores the original ion concentrations and readies the cell for a new action potential.


HodgkinSir A. Huxleyand Sir John Eccles for formulating these ionic mechanisms involved in nerve cell activity. Learn More in these related Britannica articles:There are no big or small action potentials in one nerve cell - all action potentials are the same size.

Therefore, the neuron either does not reach the threshold or a full action potential is fired - this is the "ALL OR NONE" principle. Action potentials (those electrical impulses that send signals around your body) are nothing more than a temporary shift (from negative to positive) in the neuron’s membrane potential caused by ions suddenly flowing in and out of the neuron.

The action potential sequence is essential for neural communication. The simplest action in response to thought requires many such action potentials for its communication and performance.

Concentration gradients

For modeling the action potential for a human nerve cell, a nominal rest potential of mV will be used. Examples of cells that signal via action potentials are neurons and muscle cells. Stimulus starts the rapid change in voltage or action potential.

In patch-clamp mode, sufficient current must be administered to the cell in order to raise the voltage above the threshold voltage to start membrane depolarization.

Action potentials are typically initiated in the axon initial segment and the propagation of the action potential along the axon allows communication of the output of the cell to its distant synapses.

An action potential is a rapid rise and subsequent fall in voltage or membrane potential across a cellular membrane with a characteristic pattern. Explore the action potential chart more more details.

Action Potential | Definition of Action Potential by Merriam-Webster