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HCMG101 Health Care System

Published : 16-Sep,2021  |  Views : 10


You are sleeping on your couch and a friend decides to play a joke on you . He first drops one drop of water on your forehead. You dont respond. Now he dropes 2 drops on your forehead. You still dont respond. Now he takes a glass of water and ppours it on your head . You jump up screaming at this point. Explain what is happening at the sensory neuron with each additionof water.


Rapid changes in the external environment provoke quick, automated reactions, called response in a living organism. Drops of water act as external stimuli, which lead to the origin of electrical signal, in the sensory neurons, present at the forehead. Initially the neuronal membrane is at resting potential.

In response to the stimulus, a graded potential is formed (Kimura). The graded potential leads to the opening of sodium or potassium ligand gated ion channels. Opening of the sodium channel leads to influx of sodium ions and the membrane enters a state of depolarization. Closure of these channels lead to activation of potassium channels and the voltage returns to resting state. Whether the action potential will be triggered by combined effects of the stimuli (water drops) are governed by the summation event.

Temporal summation fails to generate the desired action potential. However, spatial summation involving combined action of the neurons exceeds the threshold value, depolarizes the axon hillock and generates action potential (Paintal). The signals move along the axon and trigger the release of neurotransmitters from mechanically gated ion channels in the synaptic bulb, which cross the synaptic cleft and bind to the receptors located on the post-synaptic process of the adjacent dendrite (Curtis, Ryall and Watkins).

Thus, it can be stated that the first two drops of water were unable to bring the membrane potential up to the threshold value, thereby failing to generate a response. However, on pouring a glass of water, the intensity of the stimulus was strong enough to increase the membrane voltage at the hillock, above the threshold, for firing of the action potential. The sensory neurons carried the impulse to the CNS and this created a response.


Curtis, D. R., R. W. Ryall, and J. C. Watkins. "Cholinergic transmission in the mammalian central nervous system." Pharmacology of cholinergic and adrenergic transmission 3 (2017): 137-143.

Kimura, Jun. "Nerve conduction studies." Oxford Textbook of Clinical Neurophysiology 49 (2017).

Paintal, A. S. "Natural and paranatural stimulation of sensory receptors." Sensory Functions of the Skin (2014): 3-12.

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