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Glossary of Physiology Terms
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There are 8 glossary search results for:   Potentials




Definition:
The action potential is a rapid and reversible reversal of the electrical potential difference across the plasma membrane of excitable cells such as neurons, muscle cells and some endocrine cells. In a neuronal action potential, the membrane potential rapidly changes from its resting level of approximately -70 mV to around +50 mV and, subsequently, rapidly returns to the resting level again. The neuronal action potential forms an important basis for information processing, propagation, and transmission. In muscle cells, the action potential precedes, and is necessary to bring about, muscle contraction. Some endocrine cells also exhibit action potentials, where the excitation leads to hormone secretion.

The action potential is also referred to as the electrical impulse or nervous impulse.

Related glossary terms/phrases:
Graded potential

See also:
Neuronal Action Potential



Definition:
Refers to the ability of some cells to be electrically excited resulting in the generation of action potentials. Neurons, muscle cells (skeletal, cardiac, and smooth), and some endocrine cells (e.g., insulin-releasing pancreatic β cells) are excitable cells.

See also:
Resting Membrane Potential - Introduction



Definition:
Refers to synaptic or receptor potentials that can vary in amplitude and direction. Graded potentials can be depolarizing or hyperpolarizing and do not have a threshold.

Related glossary terms/phrases:
Action potential

See also:
Neuronal Action Potential - Introduction
Neuronal Action Potential - Graded Potentials versus Action Potentials



Definition:
The voltage difference across a cell plasma membrane.

The membrane potential is generally inside negative with respect to the outside, where the outside potential is generally set as the reference value. In electrically excitable cells, the value of the membrane potential can be positive (inside with respect to the outside) during electrical activity (i.e., during action potentials).

Related glossary terms/phrases:
Resting membrane potential

See also:
Resting membrane potential



Definition:
Refers to cells that do not generate action potentials. With the exception of neurons, muscle cells, and some endocrine cells, all cells in the body are non-excitable.

See also:
Resting Membrane Potential - Introduction



Definition:
Refers to the rapid depolarization of the membrane early in the action potential. In neuronal, skeletal muscle, and cardiac muscle action potentials, the Hodgkin cycle is responsible for the spike phase of the action potential.

See figure.

See also:
Important Features of the Neuronal Action Potential



Definition:
Sub-threshold (or subthreshold) refers to a stimulus that is too small in magnitude to produce an action potential in excitable cells.

In general, a sub-threshold stimulus leads to the depolarization of the membrane, but the magnitude of the depolarization is not large enough to reach the threshold voltage. Therefore, sub-threshold stimuli do not elicit action potentials.

Related glossary terms/phrases:
Threshold
Supra-threshold

See also:
Neuronal Action Potential - Introduction



Definition:
Supra-threshold (or suprathreshold) refers to a stimulus that is large enough in magnitude to produce an action potential in excitable cells.

In general, a supra-threshold stimulus leads to the depolarization of the membrane, and the magnitude of the depolarization is larger than that necessary to simply reach the threshold voltage. Therefore, supra-threshold stimuli elicit action potentials.

Related glossary terms/phrases:
Threshold
Sub-threshold

See also:
Neuronal Action Potential - Introduction









Posted: Sunday, March 31, 2013
Last updated: Friday, August 28, 2015