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Action Potential

Action Potential - A rapid change in voltage, resulting in a wave of excitation, that may result in stimulation of a nerve or muscle cell.
  • In order for an action potential to be initiated, the resting membrane voltage must exceed the excitation threshold, which then results in a cascade of depolarization and the "wave of excitation." Any stimulus below that threshold will not result in an action potential, and a stimulus greater than the threshold will not increase a single action potential, but may result in additional action potentials.  In this way, the action potential functions more like an on/off switch (all or none), and less like a dimmer switch.