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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



an increase in the efficiency of the physiological mechanisms after a period of activity. Potentiation is widespread in nature, but its underlying mechanisms vary from case to case.

An important part in neural activity is played by postsynaptic potentiation, manifested by facilitated transmission of a signal across a synapse for many seconds or several minutes after a period of synaptic activity. Postsynaptic potentiation is based on the increased probability of a mediator’s quanta being released from presynaptic nerve endings and is believed to be one of the mechanisms involved in learning and memory.

Potentiation is also characteristic of muscular activity (contraction potentiation) and of the sensory organs (light and sound potentiation). Here it results from the slowly subsiding effects of afterdischarge.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.