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Can an action potential last for a long time?

  1. Feb 10, 2017 #1
    I just learned that "action potential is a short-lasting event" (wiki)

    If someone is experiencing an emotion of sadness, is that same action potential keeps firing many times back to back or can it actually be a possibility that an action potential lasts for a "very long time".

    I am guessing the prior is true since neurons' neurotransmitters can't just keep a neural spike "alive". Once they cross the gap, they are on the other side, and their job is done until the get back.

    Or am I thinking about this the wrong way? Or maybe this is a different type of a spike and neurotransmitter functioning? Like for example, a hormone release of neurotransmitters by endocrine cells, which creates a specific "longer lasting" emotion?
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 10, 2017 #2


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    No, action potentials do not last for very long times under normal circumstances. So it is the number of action potentials (maybe in dfferent neurons) that is varied.
  4. Feb 10, 2017 #3
    And perhaps the endocrine "action potential" (as defined in the same wiki article), which I'm guessing would be bunch of hormones swimming around the body, keeps stimulating these neurons for an extended period, which creates the long-lasting experience of sadness or anger? Or is that a stretch?

    Adrenaline in the bloodstream could be a great example for starters.
  5. Feb 10, 2017 #4


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    Look up sodium channel inactivation.
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