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Creating Modern Neuroscience: The Revolutionary 1950s$
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Gordon M. Shepherd MD, DPhil

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195391503

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195391503.001.0001

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Physiology: Synaptic Potentials and Receptor Potentials

Physiology: Synaptic Potentials and Receptor Potentials

(p.84) 7 Physiology: Synaptic Potentials and Receptor Potentials
Creating Modern Neuroscience: The Revolutionary 1950s

Gordon M. Shepherd

Oxford University Press

This chapter details early studies on synaptic and reception potentials. After excitability, the second key property of nerve cells is the action that occurs at the synapses between cells. This is the crucial property that underlies the coordinated activity of neuronal populations. In analogy with the action potentials of the nerve fibers, the actions at synapses are called “synaptic potentials.” The era of investigation of synaptic potentials was opened by the development of fine-tipped micropipettes that could record the membrane currents and potentials near the sites of synapses. A leading model for these mechanisms was the nerve-muscle junction, where Bernard Katz and colleagues showed that the invading action potential in the nerve activated an end-plate potential, shown to be due to the summed action of many miniature responses to transmitter quanta presumably corresponding to the release of vesicles from the presynaptic terminal.

Keywords:   synapses, synaptic potentials, receptor potentials, nerve cells, neurons

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