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RHEOBASE: Voltage / strength of stimulus required just to excite the tissue, e.g., 1 mV. UTILIZATION TIME: The time for which Rheobase must be applied to excite the tissue. CHRONAXIE: A time for which a stimulus, double the rheobase when applied, just excites the tissue, e.g., 2 mV. (Chronological is from time).


1. A particular value of it for a particular tissue.
Type A-alpha nerve fiber has minimum value of chronaxie, i.e. they are more excitable as compared to cardiac muscle. (less chronaxie more excitability)

2. In nerve injury repair procedure We assess the recovery by finding chronaxie of nerve affected & muscle affected.
Damage to nerve fiber is determined by measuring chronaxie. It improves with recovery.

Action potential
By Dr. Mudassar Ali Roomi (MBBS, M. Phil)


Defintion: it is an abrupt pulse like change in membrane potential, lasting for fraction of a second. During action potential there is reversal of potential. (inside +, outside -). Nerve impulse is being conducted along a nerve fiber = action potential is being conducted. Depolarization = loss of negativity inside. Repolarization = return of negativity inside.

Peak +35 to 40 mV Absolute Refractory period [Na+ inactivation gates are still closed] (First 1/3 of repolarization) Repolarization [K+ efflux] Relative Refractory period (70% of repolarization / start of After-Depolarization) Slow Repolarization/ K+accumulate -65mV Excitable/ Super-normal period After Depolarization RMP -90 mV

0 mV Depolarization [Rapid Na+influx] Spike potential

Membrane Voltage (mV)

Threshold -65 mV Complete opening of fast Na+ channels RMP -90 mV

Time (msec)
After Hyper-polarization (Undershoot) / Sub-normal period ( -95 mV ) [K+ efflux continues, K+ channels remain open for some time after RMP is reached]. Here tissue is difficult to be excited.

Properties of action potential

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Sudden / abrupt in onset. Of limited magnitude / amplitude. It goes to +35 to 40 mV & comes back. (biphasic) Short duration (may be few millisec). It obeys all or none law. (if a stimulus is threshold or suprathreshold action potential is produced with its maximum amplitude, if subthreshold stimulus not produced at all). 6. Self propagating. (automatically propagated in both directions). 7. Has a refractory period. (when there wont be response to 2nd stimulus if the fiber is already stimulated).

Ionic basis of action potential

Remains closed at rest

Rapid sodium influx Delayed closure of for fraction of millisec inactivation gate due to threshold at the end of depolarization stimulus

Potassium gates closed at rest. K efflux. Threshold stimulus simultaneously Repolarization due to activation of K channels, to Na channels, a slow change in K channels. + ions move out repolarization. K channels will open when Na gates are Only 1 gate for K on inside

Ionic basis of action potential

Voltage gated Na+ channels:
At rest (-90mV) sodium activation gates on outside of membrane remain closed For fraction of m sec in presence of threshold stimulus, rapid sodium influx takes place depolarization (-90mV to +35mV) There is delayed closure of inactivation gate on the inside.

Voltage gated K+ channels:

Repolarization due to activation of potassium channels, +ions move out regain of negativity inside (repolarization) At rest potassium gates situated on inside are closed (-90mV) There is slow activation of potassium gates between +35mV to -90mV. Rapid potassium efflux occurs. Threshold stimulus causes a slow change in potassium channels. It will open when sodium gates are closed.

threshold / firing / critical value: - 65 mV for sodium channels. It causes change in activation gate of sodium channels at -65 mV, complete opening of fast sodium channels.

K+ becomes accumulated on outer side of membrane during later part of repolarization, which slows down further K+ efflux after 70% of repolarization slow repolarization is called after depolarization. Super normal period: During After depolarization, there is super normal period. Tissue is most excitable. Here potential is 65 mV, so small change is required to stimulate.

When potential has reached the resting value, it does not stay there & becomes more negative & called After hyperpolarization. Cause: It is because when potential has reached resting value, some K channels are still open & K efflux continues membrane becomes more negative. Sub-normal period: During After hyper-polarization it occurs, because tissue is difficult to be excited because potential becomes 95 mV. Part of action potential between threshold value & beginning of after depolarization is called SPIKE POTENTIAL.

Electrotonic potential or graded potential or localized potential

1. Proportional to stimulus strength (graded) 2. Not propagated but decremental with distance 3. Exhibits summation 4. magnitude: low 5. Refractory period: absent 6. duration: upto 20 msec

Action potential

Independent of stimulus strength (all or none) Propagated, unchanged in magnitude

Summation not possible Magnitude: high Refractory period: present duration: upto 2 msec

7. examples: subthreshold potential, EPSP, Action potential in nerve fibers IPSP