How Do Nerve Impulses Travel?

Nerve impulses are electrical signals that travel along your nerves, carrying messages from one nerve cell to the next. They travel through the body via a process called conduction. Conduction is when an electrical signal travels along a wire or other conductor

Nerve impulses are transmitted by the transmission of electrical and chemical signals. The signal travels from one neuron to another, through a process called neurotransmission. Neurons use voltage-gated ion channels to transmit nerve impulses.

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Do nerve impulses travel like bullets through the brain? While this may be a difficult question to answer, it’s an important one for neuroscience. By understanding how nerve impulses travel, we can better understand how the brain works and why certain symptoms occur. In this post, we’ll take a look at what is known about nerve impulse transmission and discuss some of the challenges in mapping it out.

How Do Nerve Impulses Travel?

Nerve impulses are generated by the movement of ions across cell membranes. This process is known as depolarization, and it occurs when there is a change in the distribution of electrically charged particles (ions) inside and outside the cell. Depolarization creates an electrical gradient that can be measured as a voltage difference between the interior and exterior of the cell.

In order for an impulse to be generated, the depolarization must reach a certain threshold voltage. This threshold voltage is different for different types of cells, but it is typically around -50 mV. Once the depolarization reaches this threshold, an action potential is generated.

An action potential is a brief change in membrane potential that propagates along the length of the cell membrane. The action potential causes ion channels to open and close rapidly, which results in a rapid influx (and efflux) of ions across the cell membrane. This influx and efflux of ions produces a wave-like change in membrane potential that can be measured as an electrical signal.

The action potential travels down the length of the nerve cell until it reaches the end terminal (axon). At the end terminal, chemical signals (neurotransmitters) are released into synapses where they bind to receptors on target cells. These chemical signals cause changes in membrane potential on target cells, which can lead to further propagation of nerve impulses or other cellular responses such as muscle contraction or glandular secretion.

The Structure of Neurons

All neurons have a cell body (soma), where the nucleus is located. The cell body contains most of the organelles, including the nucleus. Dendrites are thin, branching processes that arise from the cell body and receive inputs from other neurons or from sensory receptors in the case of afferent (sensory) neurons. An axon is a single, long process that arises from the cell body and carries nerve impulses away from the neuron to either other neurons or effector cells. Axons may be covered with a myelin sheath, which is composed of lipid-rich Schwann cells in vertebrates (and oligodendrocytes in invertebrates). Myelin increases conduction velocity by reducing membrane capacitance and increasing action potential threshold; it also provides some degree of electrical insulation.

Nerve Impulse Transmission:

The flow chart below depicts how an impulse travels from one neuron to another. In order for an impulse to be generated, there must be a change in membrane potential that exceeds threshold. This can happen due to depolarization (a decrease in voltage) or hyperpolarization (an increase in voltage). Once threshold is reached, sodium channels open and allow Na+ ions to enter the cell down their electrochemical gradient, causing further depolarization. As Na+ channels close and potassium channels open, K+ leaves the cell down its concentration gradient, causing repolarization back toward resting potential. Finally, as potassium channels close, calcium channels open briefly to allow Ca2+ into the cell; this triggers exocytosis of neurotransmitters into the synapse between two neurons.

1.) A change in membrane potential causes sodium channels to open 2.) Sodium rushes into the neuron down its concentration gradient 3.) As sodium enters ,the neuron becomes more positively charged 4.) When enough sodium has entered ,the charge inside and outside reach equilibrium 5.) The change in membrane potential causes potassium channels to open 6.) Potassium rushes out of neuron down its concentration gradient 7.) As potassium leaves ,the neuron becomes more negatively charged 8.)When enough potassium has left ,the charge inside and outside reach equilibrium

The Function of Neurons

Neurons are the cells that make up the nervous system. They are responsible for transmitting information throughout the body, and they do this by generating electrical impulses. These electrical impulses travel from one neuron to another, and they do so by passing through a gap called a synapse. The synapse is a small space between two neurons, and it is through this space that the electrical impulse travels.

The Order That Stimuli Travels Through Neurons:

When a stimulus is received by a neuron, it will travel through that neuron in a specific order. First, the stimulus will travel to the cell body of the neuron. From there, it will travel down what is called the axon of the neuron. The axon is a long, thin extension of the cell body that carries information from one neuron to another. Once the stimulus reaches the end of the axon, it will pass through the synapse and into another neuron. This process will continue until the message has been relayed to all of the neurons involved in its pathway.

The Pathway of an Impulse

An impulse is generated when a stimulus activates the dendrites of a neuron. This depolarizes the cell membrane and causes an electrochemical reaction that opens sodium channels. This influx of sodium ions causes the membrane potential to become more positive, which triggers more sodium channels to open and further depolarizes the cell. When the membrane potential reaches a certain threshold, an action potential is generated. This action potential then travels down the axon of the neuron to the terminal buttons, where it releases neurotransmitters into the synaptic cleft. These neurotransmitters bind to receptors on the post-synaptic neuron and generate another action potential. This process continues until the impulse reaches its target destination.

The Transmission of an Impulse

An impulse is generated when the membrane of a neuron is stimulated. This can happen in various ways, but typically it occurs when the neuron comes into contact with another neuron or when a neurotransmitter binds to receptors on the membrane. When the membrane is stimulated, this causes an electrical change that travels along the length of the neuron.

This electrical change is called an action potential, and it triggers the release of chemicals known as neurotransmitters from the end of the neuron. These neurotransmitters then bind to receptors on adjacent neurons, causing their membranes to be stimulated and generating an action potential in those cells as well. This process continues until the action potential reaches its destination.

There are a few things to note about how action potentials travel along neurons. First, they always travel in one direction; once an action potential is generated, it will travel from the point of stimulation towards the end of the cell. Second, action potentials always travel at the same speed; they cannot speed up or slow down once they have started. Finally,action potentials are all-or-none events; either a neuron will generate an action potential or it won’t, but it cannot generate a partial action potential.

The transmission of an impulse from one neuron to another is therefore a relatively simple process:

1) An impulse is generated when the membrane of a neuron is stimulated in some way

2) This electrical change (action potential) triggers the release of chemicals (neurotransmitters) from terminals atendof thenueron

3) The neurotransmitters bind to receptors on adjacent neurons and stimulate them

4) This process continues untilthe message reaches its destination

The Refractory Period

After an action potential has traveled down the axon of a neuron, that neuron cannot fire again for a brief period of time. This is called the refractory period. During the refractory period, the neuron is unable to generate another action potential no matter how strong the stimulus. The duration of the refractory period varies depending on the type of neuron. Some neurons have a very short refractory period and can fire several times per second. Other neurons have a much longer refractory period and can only fire once every few seconds or even minutes.

The absolute refractory period is the briefest time after an action potential during which it is impossible to generate another action potential, no matter how strong the stimulus (Figure 1). This occurs because immediately after an action potential, all of the sodium channels in the plasma membrane are still inactivated and cannot open. The relative refractory period is a slightly longer time during which it is difficult but possible to generate another action potential (Figure 2). This occurs because some of the sodium channels have already begun to recover from inactivation and are able to open if given a sufficiently strong stimulus.

Action Potential:

An action potential is an electrical signal that travels down an axon away from the cell body of a neuron (Figure 3). Action potentials are generated by special proteins called ion channels that are embedded in the plasma membrane of neurons. These ion channels selectively allow ions such as potassium, sodium, and calcium to flow into or out of cells through tiny pores in their membranes. In most cases, these ionic currents serve to maintain a resting voltage across neuronal cell membranes (this voltage difference is called the resting membrane potential). However, under certain circumstances these same ionic currents can also give rise to action potentials.

An active process known as depolarization causes some ion channels to open more frequently than others, resulting in an influx of positively charged ions into the cell and a local change in voltage (called depolarization) at that point along the membrane (Figure 4A). If this depolarization reaches or exceeds a certain threshold value, then more and more ion channels will begin to open throughoutthe entire length ofthe axon, causing an avalanche-like spreadof depolarizationthat sweeps rapidly alongthe membrane likea wave(Figure 4B; note that this waveof depolarizationis often referredtoas simplyan “actionpotential”). As longas enoughionchannelsremainopenat anygivenpointalongthemembrane(andthusenoughdepolarizationoccurs),thenactionpotentialswill keep spreadingrapidlydowntheaxonuntilthey reachtheendoftheaxonand eventuallyfadeawaytozero(Figure4C).

Factors Affecting Impulse Transmission

The speed of nerve impulses is affected by the diameter of the axon. The larger the diameter, the faster the conduction velocity. Myelinated fibers have a much greater diameter than unmyelinated fibers and, as a result, conduct impulses much more rapidly. Myelin is an insulating material that forms a sheath around some axons. It acts to increase the speed of nerve impulse conduction by reducing capacitance within the axon membrane (the tendency of electrical charge to dissipate along the membrane), and by preventing ion leakage across the membrane. Nodes of Ranvier are gaps in myelin sheaths that occur at intervals along myelinated fibers. These nodes serve as sites for rapid changes in ion concentration during nerve impulse conduction (see below).

The degree of myelination also affects conduction velocity. The more heavily myelinated an axon is, the faster it can conduct impulses. However, even unmyelinated fibers can conduct action potentials; they just do so more slowly than myelinated fibers.

Another factor that affects conduction velocity is temperature; warm temperatures generally increase conduction velocity while cooler temperatures tend to decrease it. This explains why we often feel pain more quickly when a body part is exposed to cold temperatures (such as when we touch something very cold or put our hand in ice water).

Nerve Impulse Transmission: An Overview

In order for neurons to communicate with each other and send messages throughout the body, they must be able to generate and transmit electrical impulses known as action potentials or nerve impulses. In this article, we’ll take a look at how these impulses are generated and transmitted from one neuron to another. We’ll also explore how different factors can affect impulse transmission and how scientists measure nervous system activity using devices such as EEGs and EMGs.

Before we get started, let’s review some basic concepts about neurons:

Neurons are cells that transmit electrical signals between different parts of the nervous system

They have three main parts: dendrites (which receive input signals from other neurons), cell bodies (which contain the nucleus), and axons (which carry output signals away from the cell body)

Most neurons have only one axon but many dendrites

Axons may be either myelinated or unmyelinated; myelin is an insulating material that coats some axons and increases their ability to conduct electrical signals

When an input signal arrives at a neuron via its dendrites, it triggers a change in voltage across the cell membrane known as an action potential

Disorders of Impulse Transmission

An impulse is a brief electrical discharge that travels along the length of a nerve cell. The nervous system uses these impulses to send messages to different parts of the body. In order for an impulse to be generated, three things must happen in sequence: depolarization, repolarization, and hyperpolarization.


The first step in generating an impulse is called depolarization. This occurs when the cellufffds membrane potential changes from a negative value to a positive value. This change in voltage is caused by an influx of positively charged ions into the cell. The most common ion involved in depolarization is sodium (Na+).

As sodium ions enter the cell, the inside of the cell becomes more positive until it reaches a threshold voltage. Once this threshold is reached, an action potential (or nerve impulse) is generated.


After an action potential has been generated, the cell needs to return to its resting state so that it can be ready to generate another action potential if needed. This process is called repolarization and it happens when potassium (K+) ions leave the cell while calcium (Ca2+) ions enter the cell. As potassium leaves and calcium enters, the inside of the cell becomes more negative again and eventually returns to its resting state.


In some cases, after repolarization has occurred, there may be a period where the membrane potential becomes even more negative than its original resting state. This period is called hyperpolarization and it serves as a refractory period for the neuron. During this time, no new action potentials can be generated even if there are strong stimuli present because Hyperpolarization prevents any further depolatizations from happening


The nervous system is responsible for sending signals throughout the body in the form of electrical impulses. These impulses are generated by neurons, which are special cells that conduct these electrical signals. When a neuron receives a signal, it generates an impulse that travels down its axon to the next neuron. This process continues until the signal reaches its target destination.

Further Reading


The Brain and Nervous System:

How does an impulse travel from one neuron to another? In order for an impulse to travel from one neuron to another, there must be a connection between the two neurons. This connection is called a synapse, and it is made up of the axon terminal of one neuron (the presynaptic cell) and the dendrite of another neuron (the postsynaptic cell). The space between these two cells is called the synaptic cleft.

In order for an impulse to travel across a synapse, there are several steps that need to happen:

1. The impulse arrives at the axon terminal of the presynaptic cell.

2. This causes calcium channels to open and calcium ions to flow into the cell.

3. The presence of calcium ions triggers vesicles containing neurotransmitters (chemicals that carry signals across synapses) to fuse with the plasma membrane and release their contents into the synaptic cleft.

4. Neurotransmitters bind to receptors on the dendrites of the postsynaptic cell and cause changes in the membrane potential.

5. If this change in membrane potential is large enough, it will trigger an action potential in the postsynaptic cell and send an impulse down its axon towards other neurons or muscle cells

The “nerve impulse notes” are the electrical impulses that travel to and from the brain. They are responsible for sending messages between nerve cells in the body.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does a nerve impulse travel across a synapse?

Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that are produced when a nerve impulse reaches the dendrites at the end of the axon. These substances spread across the synapses (the gap between the two neurons). On the membrane of the second neuron, the chemicals interact with receptor molecules.

What are the five steps to the nerve impulse pathway?

The resting potential, threshold, rising phase, declining phase, and recovery phase are the five stages that make up the action potential. The membrane potential of a neuron at rest, or the resting potential, is where we start.

How does an impulse travel from one neuron to another quizlet?

How does a neuronal impulse get from one to the next? The impulse is helped to “jump” over the cell-to-cell distance via chemical neurotransmitters. associative, afferent, and efferent neurons. They transport information to the brain and spinal cord from every area of the body.

How do nerve impulses travel in the body explain Class 10?

The dendrite transmits electrical impulses to the cell body, which are subsequently carried up the axon to the nerve ends. The electrical impulse triggers the chemical release at the nerve ends. The synapse, or space between two nerve cells, is where impulses travel in order to reach the next nerve cell.

How does a nerve impulse travel quizlet?

In what way do nerve impulses move? All nerve impulses go from the cell body to the dendrites and then down the axon in a single path.

How do impulses move at a synapse quizlet?

An impulse moves along a presynaptic neuron’s axon. activates voltage-sensitive Ca 2+ channels when it reaches the synaptic end bulb. The synaptic vesicles fuse to the cell membrane as a result of calcium entering the cell and triggering a sequence of events. Neurotransmitters are released by vesicles into the synaptic cleft.

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