Essay about Factors Affecting The Action Potential

Essay about Factors Affecting The Action Potential

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The Action Potential
The action potential is crucial to the lives of many organisms, and it occurs in just milliseconds. Without action potentials, none of the systems in the body can properly communicate. There are six distinct phases of an action potential, and each phase plays an important role when it comes to moving ions and current across the neuronal membrane. There are five phases of the action potential that are commonly referred to. The phases include rest, depolarization/rising, peak/overshoot, repolarization/falling, hyperpolarization/undershoot, and return to rest (Bear, Connors, and Paradiso, 2015). There are many names for each of the phases, but the aforementioned are the most common. During the course of the action potential, there are many factors that directly affect propagation. These include, but are not limited to: tau, lambda, axon diameter and the number of channels on the membrane. Without all of these phases and factors working in a specific way, an action potential would not be generated, and an organism would have limited to no function at all.
The first phase of the action potential is called the resting phase. The membrane potential (Vm) is -65 millivolts (mV) due to an established concentration gradient. The concentration gradient is present because of the sodium/potassium pump (Na+/K+ pump) and leaky potassium channels working to ensure the inside of the neuron is more negative. Three sodium (Na+ ) ions are pumped out of the cell and two potassium (K+) ions are pumped into the cell by the Na+/K+ pump while the leaky channels allow K+ ions to leave the cell slowly and cause the cell to have a small K+ current leaving the cell. There is no Na+ current because there is no movement of Na+ ions across t...

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...mately 33% of the original. If lambda is increased, then more charge has been applied to a longer portion of the membrane and an action potential has been propagated down more distance. Axonal diameter also influences the velocity of the action potential. If there is a larger diameter, the velocity is going to be larger. Lambda and diameter are directly proportional to velocity, and tau is inversely proportional.
Without all of these vital phases and factors working together, producing action potentials would be impossible. Each specific phase is characterized by different channels opening and closing and the movement of current across the membrane. However, if one entity of this complicated process is out of order, and action potential fails to be produced. The factors that make the generation and propagation of an action potential are also crucial.

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