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By Gethin Morgan, Stuart Butler

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Sample text

This potential can be measured by fine glass microelectrodes (tip diameter < l lim) and arises because ions tend to diffuse down their concentration gradients. However, since ions are charged they are also susceptible to the effects of charge, and this too determines the flux of ions across the membrane. Thus if potassium ions move down their concentration gradients (out of the cell) they leave behind a negative charge which ultimately opposes further movement of potassium. At equilibrium (no net movement of ions) the electrical force (AE) preventing efflux of potassium ions is opposed by the concentration gradient promoting efflux (AC).

This is due t0 v0ltage—dependent inactivation ei Nat channels, which cannot reach their ‘closed’ state until the membrane is repolarised, at which point they can be ‘opened’ in response to a stimulus (see Fig. 1). During the last part ofthe action potential there is a relative refractory period, when increasing stimulus strength will produce an action potential. At this time some of the Nat channels are still voltage—inactivated and the K channels are opened; this produces some membrane conductance (leakiness), but requiring a larger current (stimulus) to produce the same depolarisation (voltage).

S. (1987) Clinical Neuroanatomy for Medical Students (2nd edn). Boston: Little, Brown. Walsh, l<. W. (1987) Neuropsychology: A Clinical Approach (2nd edn). Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone. Recommended texts Barr, M. L. (1988) The Human Nervous System (5th edn). New York: Lippincott. Heimer, L. (1983) The Human Brain and Spinal Cord. New York: Springer-Verlag. Snell, R. S. (1987) Clinical Neuroanatomy for Medical Students (2nd edn). Boston: Little, Bmwn Walton, J. (1987) Introduction to Clinical Neuroscience (2nd edn).

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