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All types of graded potentials will result in small changes of either depolarization or hyperpolarization in the voltage of a membrane. These changes can lead to the neuron reaching threshold if the changes add together, or summate    . The combined effects of different types of graded potentials are illustrated in [link] . If the total change in voltage in the membrane is a positive 15 mV, meaning that the membrane depolarizes from -70 mV to -55 mV, then the graded potentials will result in the membrane reaching threshold.

For receptor potentials, threshold is not a factor because the change in membrane potential for receptor cells directly causes neurotransmitter release. However, generator potentials can initiate action potentials in the sensory neuron axon, and postsynaptic potentials can initiate an action potential in the axon of other neurons. Graded potentials summate at a specific location at the beginning of the axon to initiate the action potential, namely the initial segment. For sensory neurons, which do not have a cell body between the dendrites and the axon, the initial segment is directly adjacent to the dendritic endings. For all other neurons, the axon hillock is essentially the initial segment of the axon, and it is where summation takes place. These locations have a high density of voltage-gated Na + channels that initiate the depolarizing phase of the action potential.

Summation can be spatial or temporal, meaning it can be the result of multiple graded potentials at different locations on the neuron, or all at the same place but separated in time. Spatial summation is related to associating the activity of multiple inputs to a neuron with each other. Temporal summation is the relationship of multiple action potentials from a single cell resulting in a significant change in the membrane potential. Spatial and temporal summation can act together, as well.

Postsynaptic potential summation

This graph has membrane potential, in millivolts, on the X axis, ranging from negative 90 to negative 40. Time is on the X axis. The plot line is moving up and down between the resting membrane potential of minus 70 EV and the threshold potential of minus 55 EV. An EPSP causes the plot line to move higher, closer to the threshold potential. An IPSP causes the plot line to move lower, further away from the threshold potential. Toward the right side of the graph, the neuron receives an EPSP that pushes the membrane potential above the threshold, triggering an action potential that causes the plot line to quickly rise above positive 30 EV. The plot line then quickly drops back below minus 70 EV but then gradually increases back to minus 70. A picture of a neuron indicates that excitatory post synaptic potentials are commonly provided by synapses on the neuron’s dendrites. Inhibitory post synaptic potentials are commonly provided by synapses near the neuron’s axon hillock.
The result of summation of postsynaptic potentials is the overall change in the membrane potential. At point A, several different excitatory postsynaptic potentials add up to a large depolarization. At point B, a mix of excitatory and inhibitory postsynaptic potentials result in a different end result for the membrane potential.

Watch this video to learn about summation. The process of converting electrical signals to chemical signals and back requires subtle changes that can result in transient increases or decreases in membrane voltage. To cause a lasting change in the target cell, multiple signals are usually added together, or summated. Does spatial summation have to happen all at once, or can the separate signals arrive on the postsynaptic neuron at slightly different times? Explain your answer.


There are two types of connections between electrically active cells, chemical synapses and electrical synapses. In a chemical synapse    , a chemical signal—namely, a neurotransmitter—is released from one cell and it affects the other cell. In an electrical synapse    , there is a direct connection between the two cells so that ions can pass directly from one cell to the next. If one cell is depolarized in an electrical synapse, the joined cell also depolarizes because the ions pass between the cells. Chemical synapses involve the transmission of chemical information from one cell to the next. This section will concentrate on the chemical type of synapse.

Questions & Answers

Name the two phases of metabolism
Grace Reply
reproduction and growth
how about anabolism and catabolism?
In Simply Anabolism means formation... Catabolism means breakdown
two phases of reproductio?
Anabolism indicates potential & catabolism potential converts to kinetic
Name the most important life process in the human body in terms of anatomy and physiology
Nervous system
Every system is important for body functions
what is the difference between the functions of the adhesion belt and the desmosomes?
Mason Reply
what are the derivatives of the germ layer?
Miriam Reply
Pls explain the atlas of the cervical vertebral column
Ifunanya Reply
why does the material not allow in mri
Simran Reply
what do you mean 'mri'
short for magnetic resonance imaging. "the researchers used MRI to record the brain activity" a medical examination performed using magnetic resonance imaging. "he's having an MRI to determine the extent of the injury" an image obtained by magnetic resonance imaging. "after looking at the MRI, the d
what is the meaning of sutures
Ibrahim Reply
i do not know
immovable joints btn two bones.eg the skull bones
Really,it's true
Sutures are immovable junction between two bones e.g those of the skull
what should I do to get or to know what to do for me to be excellent in the course of anatomy and physiology
Sandra Reply
study harder
Between the heart and the Brain which one is more important to human being... discuss
Faith Reply
well the brain is important for motor skills, the heart is important for involuntary muscle movement supporting body functions. the body can survive without brain involvement, but the body cannot last without the heart
granted the heart is important, but the brain gives the body purpose
the brain is more important
Even though the brain helps the human being to behave normally and purposefully, I think the heart is much more important cos human being cannot live without the heart
change the question
hello guys
it is difficult to select which organ is more important, now you can replace the heart with a mechanical device and the body could still function, and with technology today brain activity can also be replicated. But life would not be the same
there's coordination btn the two..so without any of them no life
the heart
The brain is important to humans.
what is homeostasis
Rebecca Reply
It is the condition when body feel comfortable
Wo feels hungry, thirty due to homeostasis
Is the maintenance of the internal environment of all the body cells for normal growth
what is the composition of saliva
Vijay Reply
ഫസ്റ്റ് ചാപ്റ്റർ ഇംപോർട്ടൻസ് പോസ്റ്റ്
Reshma Reply
nhi samjh aya
Nhi wt is this
I don't know
Okk wre frm u r
what is mean of? reshma
I don't know but would like to
D bone in d ankle joint re what ?
Ifunanya Reply
I thought that patella us the bone found in the knee cap
fib and tib join with tarsal form ankle joint
can one define a cell as a basic unit of a living organism
Michael Reply
cell is the structural and functional unit of living organisms
Which of the following hormones are responsible for the adolescent growth spurt? estrogen and testosterone, even in women?
Kepa Reply
estrogen hormone
yes estrogen hormone
What is sling give d characteristics of sling uses of sling
adamu Reply
a sling a rope used in hunting ie throwing of rocks

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