action potential


Definition of action potential

: a momentary reversal in electrical potential across a plasma membrane (as of a neuron or muscle fiber) that occurs when a cell has been activated by a stimulus

Examples of action potential in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web And the events at the synaptic terminals when the action potential reaches the end of the axon are completely different than what is taking place in either the dendrites or the axon. Gabriel A. Silva, Forbes, 2 Aug. 2022 That’s a language that neurons understand because [the flood of sodium ions] depolarizes a neuron and sends a signal called an action potential, which can then talk to the next neuron. Tanya Lewis, Scientific American, 8 Oct. 2021 The patients’ action potential duration shortened under the stress. Grace Leslie, Scientific American, 18 Sep. 2021 Huxley’s Nobel Prize winning work to understand the action potential - the basis for how neurons communicate with each other via discrete electrical impulses. Gabriel A. Silva, Forbes, 27 May 2021 Each neuron in the brain receives somewhere in the range of tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of action potential electrical signals from other neurons that connect into it. Gabriel A. Silva, Forbes, 19 Apr. 2021 What’s the consequence of all the work required to generate an action potential in the postsynaptic neuron? Gabriel A. Silva, Forbes, 19 Apr. 2021 That may or may not result in a spike, or action potential, going out on the neuron’s axon to the dendrites of post-synaptic neurons. Quanta Magazine, 18 Feb. 2021 This was noteworthy because conventional action potentials are usually caused by sodium and potassium ions. Quanta Magazine, 14 Jan. 2020 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'action potential.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of action potential

1913, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for action potential

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The first known use of action potential was in 1913

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Statistics for action potential

Last Updated

1 Oct 2022

Cite this Entry

“Action potential.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Oct. 2022.

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More Definitions for action potential

action potential


Medical Definition of action potential

: a momentary reversal in the potential difference across a plasma membrane (as of a nerve cell or muscle fiber) that occurs when a cell has been activated by a stimulus

called also spike potential

— compare resting potential — see afterpotential, generator potential, prepotential

More from Merriam-Webster on action potential Encyclopedia article about action potential


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