What is an action potential?

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Action potential refers to a process or activity that happens in various cell neurons. Similar to an electrical activity or impulse, action potentials in cells involves rapid rise and fall of the cell’s charge. When an action potential happens, an electric signal is literally transmitted from one part of the cell to another. These signals are the ones interpreted by the brain for a specific result or action.

Action potentials happen very quickly and some experts refer to these events as cell excitation events. During the exact moment of the electrical impulse or action potential, negative charges from the ions and components of a cell are rushed out while the positive charges rush in through the neural membrane part of cell neurons. Under normal instances, cell neurons have more of a negative charge and this will be changed to more positive when an action potential event happens. During this particular cell neuron activity, the signal to the brain is activated and the corresponding outcome or action will be interpreted. In terms of sensory neuron types, the signal generated during an action potential will tell the brain regarding what is sensed from the outside environment. The feeling of cold or hot water for example is interpreted by the brain through an action potential in sensory cells. In the case of motor neurons, action potentials will result to muscle contraction and movement. A simple hand movement for example is a result of an interplay between positive ions and negative ions inside cell neurons. With impulses or electrical signals, cellular events like action potentials will happen resulting to various body movements or sensations. Aside from motor and sensory nerves though, there are also action potentials that result to communication between one part of the brain to another. Other action potentials also happen for various other brain processes.

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