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Step 1

At rest: -70 mV with Na+ outside and K+ inside

Step 2

A stimulus from a neighboring neuron changes shape of a Na+ channel causing it to open

Step 3

Na+ ions flood in causing local depolarization: inside positive and outside negative

Step 4

Enough channels open, enough Na+ comes in to change the onside to about 50mV (threshold potential)

Step 5

Change in charge opens voltage-regulated, gated channels; more Na+ floods in causing depolarization of 30mV

Step 6

The change opens K+ gated channels; K+ floods out (Na+ gates close, no more Na+ in) K+ gates close slowly; Repolarization (inside becomes negative again)

Step 7

Because K+ gates are slow, overshoot to -75mV occurs (hyperpolarization)

Step 8

Na+/K+ pump puts ions back where they came from and restores resting potential of -70mV

Step 9

The Na+ that rushed in (step 3) keeps making the next gates open [wave of depolarization (action potential) spreads across the entire neuron membrane and down to axon terminals on to the synapse]

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