Psych M.D. - Action Potential

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Term: Action Potential
Definition (Myers): a neural impulse; a brief electrical charge that travels down an axon. The action potential is generated by the movement of positively charged atoms in and out of channels in the axon's membrane 1
Definition (alternative): is a transient alteration of the transmembrane voltage (or membrane potential) across an excitable membrane generated by the activity of voltage-gated ion channels embedded in the membrane. Action potentials play multiple roles in several types of excitable cells such as neurons, myocytes, and electrocytes. The best known action potentials are pulse-like waves of voltage that travel along the axons of neurons. 2
Contextual explanation: An impulse that a neuron fires when it receives signals from sense receptors stimulated by pressure, heat, or light, or when it is stimulated by chemical messages from neighboring neurons. For example, when neurons receive enough excitatory signals, it'll fire an action potential to send the signals to the next neuron.
Related terms and concepts:
action potential3
Related websites:
Sources:
  1. Myers, D. G. (2004). Psychology. New York, New York: Worth Publishers.
  2. Action potential - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. (n.d.). Retrieved October 14, 2009, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Action_potential
  3. Beta Rhythm (Music of the Mind): Station to Station: Action Potentials in Neurons. (n.d.). Retrieved October 14, 2009, from http://betarhythm.blogspot.com/2007/09/station-to-station-action-potentials-in.html
Edited by: Sean
Date of last edit: 10/15/09



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