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BIO 201 Trainor Action Potentials and Synapses

Neurons and Potentials

Neurons are highly irritable

Respond to adequate stimulus by generating an action potential (nerve impulse)

Two types of signals

Graded potentials

Incoming shortdistance signals

Action potentials

Long distance signals of axons

Potential difference across the membrane of a resting cell

Approximately –70 mV in neurons (cytoplasmic side of membrane is negatively charged relative to outside)

Generated by the differences in ionic makeup of intracellular fluid and the extracellular fluid

makeup of intracellular fluid and the extracellular fluid   K K + + Na Na

K K + + Na Na + + K K + + Na Na +
K K
+ +
Na
Na
+ +
K K
+ +
Na
Na +
+

outside

outside

Plasma

Plasma

membrane

membrane

inside

inside

fluid outside fluid outside neuron neuron gated sodium gated sodium channel channel
fluid outside
fluid outside
neuron
neuron
gated sodium
gated sodium
channel
channel
Na Na + + voltage voltage Na Na + + reversed reversed Na Na +
Na
Na
+ +
voltage
voltage
Na
Na
+ +
reversed
reversed
Na
Na
+ +
©2007©2007 ThomsonThomson HigherHigher EducationEducation
©2007 Thomson Higher Education

In a membrane at rest, the inside of the neuron is negative relative to

In a membrane at rest, the inside of the neuron is negative relative to

the outside. An electrical disturbance (yellow arrow) spreads from an

the outside. An electrical disturbance (yellow arrow) spreads from an

input zone to an adjacent trigger zone of the membrane, which has a

input zone to an adjacent trigger zone of the membrane, which has a

large number of gated sodium channels.

large number of gated sodium channels.

A strong disturbance initiates an action potential. Sodium gates open.

A strong disturbance initiates an action potential. Sodium gates open.

Sodium flows in, reducing the negativity inside the neuron. The

Sodium flows in, reducing the negativity inside the neuron. The

change causes more gates to open, and so on until threshold is

change causes more gates to open, and so on until threshold is

reached and the voltage difference across the membrane reverses.

reached and the voltage difference across the membrane reverses.

Na + /K Na + /K + pump + pump + + + + K
Na + /K
Na + /K + pump
+
pump
+ +
+ +
K K
K K
K K
+ +
K +
K +
Na
Na
+ +
K +
Na
Na
+ +
Na
Na
+ +
Na +
Na +
Na +
propagating
propagating
action potential
action potential
K K
+ +
©2007 Thomson Higher Education
©2007©2007 ThomsonThomson HigherHigher EducationEducation
©2007 Thomson Higher Education

At the next patch of membrane, another group of gated sodium channels open. In the previous patch, some K + moves out through other gated channels.That region becomes negative again.

Action Potential Propagation

Action potentials spread by themselves.

After each action potential, the sodium and potassium concentration

After each action potential, the sodium and potassium concentration

gradients in a patch of membrane are not yet fully restored. Active

gradients in a patch of membrane are not yet fully restored. Active

transport at sodium–potassium pumps restores them.

transport at sodium–potassium pumps restores them.

The action potential is self propagating and moves away from the stimulation site

Potentials can self propagate because the changes to the membrane potential don’t lose strength

A neuron can’t “fire” again until ion pumps restore its resting potential.

By diffusion, some potassium ions will always leak out of the cell and some sodium will always leak in

The sodiumpotassium pumps use ATP to actively pump potassium ions in and sodium ions out of the neuron

Necessary to keep the concentration of sodium ions higher outside, ready for another action potential to form.

Action Potential

Resting state

potential to form. Action Potential  Resting state  Only leakage channels for Na+ and K+
potential to form. Action Potential  Resting state  Only leakage channels for Na+ and K+

Only leakage channels for Na+ and K+ are open

All gated Na+ and K+ channels are closed

Depolarization

A reduction in membrane potential (toward zero)

Inside of the membrane becomes less negative than the resting potential

Increases the probability of producing a nerve impulse

Hyperpolarization

An increase in membrane potential (away from zero)

Inside of the membrane becomes more negative than the resting potential

Reduces the probability of producing a nerve impulse

Action Potential Propagation

Threshold

At threshold:

Membrane is depolarized by 15 to 20 mV

Na+ permeability increases

Na influx exceeds K+ efflux

The positive feedback cycle begins

Threshold

Subthreshold stimulus—weak local depolarization that does not reach threshold

Threshold stimulus—strong enough to push the membrane potential toward and beyond threshold

Threshold

All action potentials are alike and are independent of stimulus intensity

Strong stimuli can generate action potentials more often than weaker stimuli

The CNS determines stimulus intensity by the frequency of impulses

Action Potentials

Action potentials spread by themselves.

Potentials  Action potentials spread by themselves.  The action potential is self ‐ propagating and

The action potential is self propagating and moves away from the stimulation site.

Potentials can self propagate because the changes to the membrane potential don’t lose strength

Occurs in muscle cells and axons of neurons

Does not decrease in magnitude over distance

Principal means of long distance neural communication

An action potential is an all or none phenomenon—action potentials either happen completely, or not at all

Graded Potentials

Shortlived, localized changes in membrane potential

Graded potential spreads as local currents change the membrane potential of adjacent regions

Occur when a stimulus causes gated ion channels to open

E.g., receptor potentials, generator potentials, postsynaptic potentials

Magnitude varies directly (graded) with stimulus strength

Decrease in magnitude with distance as ions flow and diffuse through leakage channels

Shortdistance signals

Graded Potential vs. Action Potential

Conduction Velocity

Conduction velocities of neurons vary widely

Effect of axon diameter

Larger diameter fibers have less resistance to local current flow and have faster impulse conduction

Effect of myelination

Continuous conduction in unmyelinated axons is slower than saltatory conduction in myelinated axons

 Continuous conduction in unmyelinated axons is slower than saltatory conduction in myelinated axons

Conduction Velocity

Effects of myelination:

Myelin sheaths insulate and prevent leakage of charge

Saltatory conduction in myelinated axons is about 30 times faster

Voltage gated Na+ channels are located at the nodes

APs appear to jump rapidly from node to node

Conduction Velocity

Multiple Sclerosis

An autoimmune disease that mainly affects young adults

Symptoms: visual disturbances, weakness, loss of muscular control, speech disturbances, and urinary incontinence

Myelin sheaths in the CNS become nonfunctional scleroses

Shunting and shortcircuiting of nerve impulses occurs

Impulse conduction slows and eventually ceases

Action Potentials and Synapses Part II

ceases Action Potentials and Synapses ‐ Part II The Synapse  A junction that mediates information

The Synapse

A junction that mediates information transfer from one neuron:

To another neuron

To an effector cell

Presynaptic neuron—conducts impulses toward the synapse

Postsynaptic neuron—transmits impulses away from the synapse

Synaptic Cleft

Fluid filled space separating the presynaptic and postsynaptic neurons

Prevents nerve impulses from directly passing from one neuron to the next

Transmission across the synaptic cleft:

Is a chemical event (as opposed to an electrical one)

Involves release, diffusion, and binding of neurotransmitters

Ensures unidirectional communication between neurons

release, diffusion, and binding of neurotransmitters  Ensures unidirectional communication between neurons
             Types of

Types of Synapses

Axodendritic—between the axon of one neuron and the dendrite of another

Axosomatic—between the axon of one neuron and the soma of another

Less common types:

and the soma of another  Less common types:  Axoaxonic (axon to axon)  Dendrodendritic

Axoaxonic (axon to axon)

Dendrodendritic (dendrite to dendrite)

Dendrosomatic (dendrite to soma)

Synapse

Neurotransmitter must be released, diffuse across the synapse, and bind to receptors

Within a few milliseconds, the neurotransmitter effect is terminated

milliseconds, the neurotransmitter effect is terminated  Degradation by enzymes  Reuptake by astrocytes

Degradation by enzymes

Reuptake by astrocytes or axon terminal

Diffusion away from the synaptic cleft

Synaptic delay—time needed to do this (0.3–5.0 ms)

Synaptic delay is the rate limiting step of neural transmission

Excitatory Synapse

Neurotransmitter binds to and opens chemically gated channels that allow simultaneous flow of Na+ and K+ in opposite directions

Na+ influx is greater that K+ efflux, causing a net depolarization

If impulse is of threshold strength voltagegated channels open and start new action potential

Inhibitory Synapse

Neurotransmitter binds to and opens channels for K+ or Cl–

Causes a hyperpolarization (the inner surface of membrane becomes more negative)

Reduces the postsynaptic neuron’s ability to produce an action potential

Summation

Temporal summation

One or more presynaptic neurons transmit impulses in rapidfire order

Spatial summation

Postsynaptic neuron is stimulated by a large number of terminals at the same time

by a large number of terminals at the same time  Neurotransmitters  50 or more

Neurotransmitters

50 or more neurotransmitters have been identified

Classified by chemical structure and by function

Acetylcholine

Biogenic Amines

Norepinephrine, Dopamine, Serotonin, Histamine

Amino Acids

GABA, Glutamate, Glycine, Peptides

Peptides

Endorphins, Somatostatin, Cholecystokinin (CCK)

Purines

ATP, Adenosine

Gases and Lipids

NO 2 , CO 2 , Endocannabinoids

Chemical Classes of Neurotransmitters

Acetylcholine (ACh)

Released at neuromuscular junctions and some ANS neurons

Synthesized by enzyme choline acetyltransferase

Degraded by the enzyme acetylcholinesterase (AChE)

Functional Classification of Neurotransmitters

Neurotransmitter effects may be excitatory (depolarizing) and/or inhibitory (hyperpolarizing)

Determined by the receptor type of the postsynaptic neuron

GABA and glycine are usually inhibitory

Glutamate is usually excitatory

Acetylcholine

Excitatory at neuromuscular junctions in skeletal muscle

Inhibitory in cardiac muscle