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    Description of an Action Potential

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    Why is the term "action potential" used to describe a nerve impulse?

    What is the role of sodium ions (Na+) and potassium ions (K+) in generating an action potential.

    What is a "threshold"?

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    Solution Preview

    1. First you need to understand the concept of membrane potential. All cells have an electrical charge different between the inside of the cell (cytoplasm) and the outside of the cell. This is caused because the membrane separates different concentrations of charged ions, so the inside of the cell has different ions than the outside of the cell. Certain excitable cells (like neurons) can undergo action potentials. An action potential is the change in electrical potential that occurs when a neuron fires. As you will see in question 2, the change in potential causes very distinct electrical changes in the ...

    Solution Summary

    This solution describes the mechanisms of an action potential. It includes a diagram.