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The Action Potential

A change in membrane potential causes an

action potential

increase in membrane potential = hyperpolarization (inhibitory; less likely to send signal) decrease in membrane potential = depolarization (excitatory) Action potential = small electrical change that propagates along the axon The conducting signal of the neuron

Transmission of a Nerve Impulse

When the nerve fiber is stimulated, membrane becomes permeable to Na+ ions Na+ rushes inside changing the electrical charge. Neuron is depolarized This creates an action potential. Only lasts .5 millisecond. Action potential moves down the nerve fiber. This electrical wave = nerve impulse (the movement of the action potential along a neuron)

Stages of Neural Transmission

Input Signal & Initiation The Trigger Conduction Component Output

The Input Signal

Threshold - to fire a neuron, the impulse must have certain level of strength. Signal is all or none. Begins when membrane potential in the postsynaptic neuron is turned on by the output of another (presynaptic) neuron Presynaptic neurons release a chemical transmitter at the synapse between 2 cells Transmitters interact with receptor molecules Receptor molecules transduce chemical potential energy into an electrical signal =

synaptic potential

Membrane to become permeable to Na+ ions Ionic current flows thru open channels, producing changes in the resting potential of the cell membrane Change in membrane potential = input signal Can vary in amplitude & duration Receptor potential spreads along the axon Decreases with distance A purely local signal which must be amplified or regenerated to reach rest of nervous system

The Trigger
When the membrane is depolarized, channels open & sodium rushes in Action potentials are generated by the influx of Na+ ions The input signal is spread passively If the signal exceeds the threshold, it proceeds; signal is all or none:
stimulation below threshold no signal all stimulation above threshold same signal

Ion Channels are Voltage Sensitive

Depolarization of one area of the axon results in depolarization of the next area This occurs because ion channels are voltage-gated The ion channels controlling Na+ and K+ can be in four states

Neither Channel is Open.

Resting State

Voltage potential to begin opening Na+ channels is reached


Depolarizing Phase
Na+ channels open, K+ channels closed

Na+ channels close and K+ channels open

Repolarizing Phase

Na+ channels closed; K+ channels still open gates havent responded to repolarization