Nerve and muscle cells rely on changes in their membrane potentials in order to carry out their activities. In this chapter, the focus will be on the nerve cell, or neuron; however, many of the same principles also apply to muscle. The function of neurons is to convey information to other cells in the form of electrical signals. Two types of electrical signals are transmitted by neurons: graded potentials and action potentials. These signals occur due to ion flux (movement) across the plasma membrane. A given stimulus will cause its effect by altering the permeability to one or more ions. The involved ions will then diffuse into or out of the cell according to their concentration and electrical gradients, causing a change in the membrane potential.

Essentials of Human Physiology

Essentials of Human Physiology

This ebook provides an introductory explanation of the workings of the human body, with an effort to draw connections between the body systems and explain their interdependencies. A framework for the book is homeostasis and how the body maintains balance within each system. This is intended as a first introduction to physiology for a college-level course.

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