Master Neuron Action Potential Propagation with Picmonic for Pre-Health

With Picmonic, facts become pictures. We've taken what the science shows - image mnemonics work - but we've boosted the effectiveness by building and associating memorable characters, interesting audio stories, and built-in quizzing.

Neuron Action Potential Propagation

Neuron-Guy propagating "the worm" dance
Picmonic
Neuron action potential propagation describes how the action potential generated at the axon hillock travels down the axon towards the nerve terminal. The depolarization wave is unidirectional, meaning signals can only travel down an axon and not back up. There is an absolute refractory period associated with the preceding sodium channels, which prevents depolarization of the same neuron region and channels from occurring rapidly. This allows for salt concentration gradients to be re-established. Neighboring voltage-gated channels open because of the initial sodium-influx, allowing for the depolarization and repolarization to propagate down the axon. They travel through the nodes of Ranvier, because these are non-insulated areas of the axon, and action potentials can only be generated at these locations. In general, the axon is myelinated, which provides insulation and increases propagation speed. The action potential jumping from a node of Ranvier to the next node is a form of transmission referred to as "saltatory conduction."
6 KEY FACTS
CHARACTERISTICS
Unidirectional Depolarization
Unicorn D-polar-bear

Depolarization in neurons occurs in only one direction, meaning the signal can only travel down the neuron towards the next neuron.

Absolute Refractory Period In Preceding Na+ Channels
Cracked Absolute Salt-shakers

The previous sodium channels have an absolute refractory period during which that area of the neuron cannot depolarize again. Typically, the concentration gradient is re-established at this time.

Neighboring Voltage Gate Channels Open
Voltage-spikes Opening the Salt-shaker Gate

Voltage-gated channels open near the initial site of action potential generation. This is because the sodium influx of the initial region causes late depolarization in nearby regions.

Nodes of Ranvier
Noses of Reindeer holding up Salt shaker Cages

Nodes of Ranvier are gaps in the myelin sheath. Because these are uninsulated areas, action potentials can be generated here, and these areas are the sites of propagation. The electrical signal is said to "jump" from node to node.

Myelination Increases Propagation Speed
Myelin-sheaths with Speed-pads

Myelination of the axon increases propagation speed by providing insulation and decreasing loss of electrical signal.

Saltatory Conduction
Salt-can Conducting

The electrical signal hops from one node of Ranvier to the next node. This type of transmission is called saltatory conduction.

Unlock all 6 facts & definitions with Picmonic Free!

JOIN FREE

Take the Neuron Action Potential Propagation Quiz

Picmonic's rapid review multiple-choice quiz allows you to assess your knowledge.

START QUIZ NOW

It's worth every penny

Picmonic for Pre-Health Covers

Pre-Health
100+ Videos
1,000+ Facts

*Average video play time: 2-3 minutes

Loading
Search for a specific Video or category now!
Or create your own Picmonic

Our Story Mnemonics Increase Mastery and Retention

Memorize facts with phonetic mnemonics

Unforgettable characters with concise but impactful videos (2-4 min each)

Ace Your Pre-Health Classes & Exams with Picmonic:

Over 860,000 students use Picmonic’s picture mnemonics to improve knowledge, retention, and exam performance.

Choose the #1 Pre-Health student study app.

Picmonic for Pre-Health covers information that is relevant to your entire Pre-Health education. Whether you’re studying for your classes or getting ready to conquer the MCAT, we’re here to help.

Works better than traditional Pre-Health flashcards.

Research shows that students who use Picmonic see a 331% improvement in memory retention and a 50% improvement in test scores.