Anatomy: How the Muscles Work Essay

Anatomy: How the Muscles Work Essay

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In order for a skeletal muscle to contract, a signal must be first sent from the primary motor cortex which is located in the precentral gyrus of the cerebral cortex. This is considered to be an Upper motor neuron. These fibers travel through the brain via the internal capsule until they get to the lower portion of the medulla oblongata. At this point, the neuron crosses over to the other side of the body. This means that if a neuron is to inervate the right bicep muscle, it originated in the left side of the precentral gyrus and crossed over to the right side at the medulla oblongata. This neuron is traveling down the corticospinal tract in the spinal cord. The neuron travels down the corticospinal tract until it gets to the appropriate level in the spinal cord for its spinal nerve root, for the case of the bicep muscle this is at the level of the 5th or 6th cervical nerve. At this level, the upper motor neuron synapses with the lower motor neuron which then travels the rest of the way down the arm to the bicep muscle.
A signal travels down a neuron via an action potential. This can be thought of like a series of dominoes. All along the neuron's membrane are pumps, these pumps push sodium out of the neuron in exchange for potassium using an energy source called ATP. In the body, most of the fluid is high in sodium, so these pumps work very hard to keep the sodium out. On the other hand, as a rule, there isn't much potassium floating around the body (there is some, but not nearly as much as the sodium). As a result, there is a big imbalance. There is a lot of sodium outside the side, but not much inside the cell (because of the pumps), on the other hand, there are lots of potassium in the neuron and not much outside th...


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... neuron membrane and to empty the acetylcholine into the neuromuscular junction. The neurotransmitters cross the gap and bind to the nicotinic receptors, these receptors are also a sodium and potassium channel. These are called “ligand gated channels.” This causes the the muscle cell membrane (the muscle end plate) at that point to depolarize... this is called a miniature end plate potential (miniature because it only occurs at that one small spot, and end plate potential. This end plate potential is not an action potential, but just the depolarization of the end plate at that small spot. Eventually, with enough signals from the neuron, the whole muscle membrane will depolarize causing an action potential which will travel into the muscle tissue. The action potential travels into the T tubules and down to the sarcoplasmic reticulum where it releases calcium.

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