Action Potential

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  • The abrupt electrochemical changes traveling down the axon of a cell that allow communication between neurons. Normally, the channels of the cell body are closed, which ensures that the cell membrane is polarized (i.e., the inside of the cell is slightly more negatively charged than the outside). On activation of the neuron, these channels open, allowing positively charged molecules to enter the cell, which depolarizes the cell interior and results in the action potential and “firing” of the neuron. The depolarization of the cell interior either surpasses the given balance or not, thereby allowing only for a binary (on/off) communication down the axon. For more information, see Kandel, Schwartz, and Jessell (2000).

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