nerve impulse


Definition of nerve impulse

: the progressive physicochemical change in the membrane of a nerve fiber that follows stimulation and serves to transmit a record of sensation from a receptor or an instruction to act to an effector

called also nervous impulse

Examples of nerve impulse in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web According to Healthline, the alkaloids in poison hemlock can affect nerve impulse transmission to muscles, which eventually can kill the person through respiratory failure. Emily Deletter, The Enquirer, 6 Aug. 2021 When light hits the rod and cone cells, nerve impulses are triggered and sent to the brain through the optic nerve. Svenja Lohner, Scientific American, 30 Jan. 2020 The retina converts light images into nerve impulses that are relayed to the brain to produce sight. Harvard Health Letter,, 7 Nov. 2019 Many venom components disable or kill by blocking the channels for sodium or other ions that are necessary for transmission of nerve impulses. Mitch Leslie, Science | AAAS, 17 Oct. 2019 Glial cells, among other things, build sheaths of a fatty material called myelin, which acts as an insulator to isolate the electrical activity of nerve impulses. John Timmer, Ars Technica, 25 July 2018 It had been suggested that some aspects of cognition were dependent upon the speed and efficiency of nerve impulses, which in turn depends on this insulation. John Timmer, Ars Technica, 25 July 2018 The tunneling rate would change with different molecules, triggering nerve impulses that create the perceptions of different smells in the brain. Tim Folger, Discover Magazine, 24 Oct. 2018 That movement of ions is the basis for many of the body’s functions, like nerve impulses, muscle contractions and digestion. Katie Thomas,, 4 June 2018 See More

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

First Known Use of nerve impulse

1870, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for nerve impulse

Time Traveler

The first known use of nerve impulse was in 1870

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Dictionary Entries Near nerve impulse

nerve growth factor

nerve impulse


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Cite this Entry

“Nerve impulse.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for nerve impulse

nerve impulse


Kids Definition of nerve impulse

: an electrical signal carried by nerve cells which relays information from the body's sense organs to the brain and spinal cord or instructions from the brain and spinal cord to a body part (as a muscle or gland)

nerve impulse

variants: also nervous impulse

Medical Definition of nerve impulse

: an electrical signal that travels along a nerve fiber in response to a stimulus and serves to transmit a record of sensation from a receptor or an instruction to act to an effector : the propagation of an action potential along the length of a neuron

Note: A nerve impulse occurs when a stimulus exceeds a certain threshold resulting in the movement of positively charged sodium ions across the cell membrane of a neuron so that the electrical charges inside and outside the membrane are temporarily reversed.

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