Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Action potential is the mechanism of sudden and transient depolarization across the membrane of a living cell in a characteristic pattern. In simpler words, action potential is a signal that is generated when there is a shift in the resting membrane potential of the cell.

Action potential can be set...

See
This Answer Now

Start your subscription to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your Subscription

Action potential is the mechanism of sudden and transient depolarization across the membrane of a living cell in a characteristic pattern. In simpler words, action potential is a signal that is generated when there is a shift in the resting membrane potential of the cell.

Action potential can be set off only in certain types of cells, known as excitable cells, by a trigger from another cell. Once the action potential has been triggered in a cell, positively charged ions start flowing into the body of the cell and equalize the concentration gradients. This decreases or reverses the polarity of the cell membrane. In other words, the cell gets depolarized. The depolarizing current then gets shifted to other adjacent cells that also get depolarized. This is how the signals pass from one cell to the other.

Examples of excitable cells include nerve cells (neurons) and muscle cells. In the case of nerve cells, the action potential produces electric impulses that result in communication between the nerve cells and the target cells. In muscle cells, it causes the muscles to contract, resulting in body movement.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on