<< Chapter < Page Chapter >> Page >
The figure describes the propagation of an action potential, or voltage pulse, along a cell membrane. The cell membrane, represented by a horizontal, blue strip, is shown in five stages, with the electrical signal moving along its length from left to right. Initially, the membrane is in the resting state, with a uniform distribution of positive charges along the outer surface and negative charges along the inner surface. A sodium cation is shown outside the cell, and a potassium cation is shown inside the cell. A small part of the membrane near the left end receives a stimulus, making that part permeable to sodium ions. In the second stage, sodium ions cross the membrane in that area, represented by a white opening in the membrane. The charge distribution in that section of the membrane is reversed; this process is called depolarization. At the same time, an adjacent part of the membrane is stimulated. In the third stage, the depolarized area undergoes repolarization, with potassium ions crossing the membrane from inside to outside the cell. Repolarization is represented by a box containing tiny triangles. At the same time, sodium ions enter the cell through the adjacent area that was stimulated in the second stage. As the cycle is repeated, the electrical signal moves along the membrane, from left to right.
A nerve impulse is the propagation of an action potential along a cell membrane. A stimulus causes an action potential at one location, which changes the permeability of the adjacent membrane, causing an action potential there. This in turn affects the membrane further down, so that the action potential moves slowly (in electrical terms) along the cell membrane. Although the impulse is due to Na + size 12{"Na" rSup { size 8{+{}} } } {} and K + size 12{"K" rSup { size 8{+{}} } } {} going across the membrane, it is equivalent to a wave of charge moving along the outside and inside of the membrane.

Some axons, like that in [link] , are sheathed with myelin , consisting of fat-containing cells. [link] shows an enlarged view of an axon having myelin sheaths characteristically separated by unmyelinated gaps (called nodes of Ranvier). This arrangement gives the axon a number of interesting properties. Since myelin is an insulator, it prevents signals from jumping between adjacent nerves (cross talk). Additionally, the myelinated regions transmit electrical signals at a very high speed, as an ordinary conductor or resistor would. There is no action potential in the myelinated regions, so that no cell energy is used in them. There is an IR size 12{ ital "IR"} {} signal loss in the myelin, but the signal is regenerated in the gaps, where the voltage pulse triggers the action potential at full voltage. So a myelinated axon transmits a nerve impulse faster, with less energy consumption, and is better protected from cross talk than an unmyelinated one. Not all axons are myelinated, so that cross talk and slow signal transmission are a characteristic of the normal operation of these axons, another variable in the nervous system.

The degeneration or destruction of the myelin sheaths that surround the nerve fibers impairs signal transmission and can lead to numerous neurological effects. One of the most prominent of these diseases comes from the body’s own immune system attacking the myelin in the central nervous system—multiple sclerosis. MS symptoms include fatigue, vision problems, weakness of arms and legs, loss of balance, and tingling or numbness in one’s extremities (neuropathy). It is more apt to strike younger adults, especially females. Causes might come from infection, environmental or geographic affects, or genetics. At the moment there is no known cure for MS.

Most animal cells can fire or create their own action potential. Muscle cells contract when they fire and are often induced to do so by a nerve impulse. In fact, nerve and muscle cells are physiologically similar, and there are even hybrid cells, such as in the heart, that have characteristics of both nerves and muscles. Some animals, like the infamous electric eel (see [link] ), use muscles ganged so that their voltages add in order to create a shock great enough to stun prey.

The figure describes the propagation of a nerve impulse, or voltage pulse, down a myelinated axon, from left to right. A cross-section of the axon is shown as a long, horizontally oriented rectangular strip, with a membrane on each side. The axon is covered with myelin sheaths separated by gaps known as nodes of Ranvier. Three gaps are shown. Most of the inner surface of the membrane is negatively charged, and the outer surface is positively charged. The gap on the left is labeled as depolarized, where the charge distribution along the membrane surface is reversed. As the voltage pulse moves from left to right through the first myelinated region, it loses voltage. The gap in the middle, labeled as depolarizing, shows sodium cations crossing the membrane from the outside to the inside of the axon. This regenerates the voltage pulse, which continues to move along the axon. The third gap is labeled as still polarized, because the signal has yet to reach that gap.
Propagation of a nerve impulse down a myelinated axon, from left to right. The signal travels very fast and without energy input in the myelinated regions, but it loses voltage. It is regenerated in the gaps. The signal moves faster than in unmyelinated axons and is insulated from signals in other nerves, limiting cross talk.

Questions & Answers

do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
characteristics of micro business
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
is Bucky paper clear?
so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
Yeah, it is a pain to say the least. You basically have to heat the substarte up to around 1000 degrees celcius then pass phosphene gas over top of it, which is explosive and toxic by the way, under very low pressure.
Do you know which machine is used to that process?
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
for screen printed electrodes ?
What is lattice structure?
s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
or in general
in general
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
On having this app for quite a bit time, Haven't realised there's a chat room in it.
what is biological synthesis of nanoparticles
Sanket Reply
what's the easiest and fastest way to the synthesize AgNP?
Damian Reply
types of nano material
abeetha Reply
I start with an easy one. carbon nanotubes woven into a long filament like a string
many many of nanotubes
what is the k.e before it land
what is the function of carbon nanotubes?
I'm interested in nanotube
what is nanomaterials​ and their applications of sensors.
Ramkumar Reply
what is nano technology
Sravani Reply
what is system testing?
preparation of nanomaterial
Victor Reply
Yes, Nanotechnology has a very fast field of applications and their is always something new to do with it...
Himanshu Reply
good afternoon madam
what is system testing
what is the application of nanotechnology?
In this morden time nanotechnology used in many field . 1-Electronics-manufacturad IC ,RAM,MRAM,solar panel etc 2-Helth and Medical-Nanomedicine,Drug Dilivery for cancer treatment etc 3- Atomobile -MEMS, Coating on car etc. and may other field for details you can check at Google
anybody can imagine what will be happen after 100 years from now in nano tech world
after 100 year this will be not nanotechnology maybe this technology name will be change . maybe aftet 100 year . we work on electron lable practically about its properties and behaviour by the different instruments
name doesn't matter , whatever it will be change... I'm taking about effect on circumstances of the microscopic world
how hard could it be to apply nanotechnology against viral infections such HIV or Ebola?
silver nanoparticles could handle the job?
not now but maybe in future only AgNP maybe any other nanomaterials
I'm interested in Nanotube
this technology will not going on for the long time , so I'm thinking about femtotechnology 10^-15
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
Privacy Information Security Software Version 1.1a
Berger describes sociologists as concerned with
Mueller Reply
Got questions? Join the online conversation and get instant answers!
QuizOver.com Reply
Practice Key Terms 4

Get the best Algebra and trigonometry course in your pocket!

Source:  OpenStax, Abe advanced level physics. OpenStax CNX. Jul 11, 2013 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11534/1.3
Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google Inc.

Notification Switch

Would you like to follow the 'Abe advanced level physics' conversation and receive update notifications?