Resting Potential

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resting potential

[′rest·iŋ pə‚ten·chəl]
The potential difference between the interior cytoplasm and the external aqueous medium of the living cell.

Potential, Resting


a potential difference between the contents of a cell or fiber and the extracellular fluid; the difference in potential is localized on the surface membrane. The membrane’s inner surface is charged electronegatively with respect to the outer surface.

Resting potential results from unequal concentrations of Na+, K+, and Cl- ions on both sides of the cell membrane and from the membrane’s unequal permeability to these ions. In nerve and muscle cells, resting potential helps keep the membrane’s molecular structure ready for excitation in response to stimulation. All influences on a cell causing a prolonged and stable decrease in action potential result in decreased cell excitability or in total loss of the cell’s capacity to generate action potential. Such influences include metabolic disturbance, increase in extracellular content of K+ ions, and the effect of a strong electric current.


References in periodicals archive ?
hyperpolarize) with distance away from the initial site of depolarization until the membrane potential is equal to the resting potential.
Before we can understand the ionic basis of the action potential, we must first understand the ionic basis of the resting potential and ask, How do the ion concentrations in the cell and extracellular milieu affect membrane potential?
The results show that the photoreceptors have cell resting potentials of about -49 [+ or -] 7 mV and respond to a flash of light with a depolarization consisting of a transient component, often accompanied by a burst of action potentials, followed by a steady-state or plateau depolarization.
Resting potential was recorded during cell impalement and generator potentials were recorded in response to light flashes, before switching to current injection in these experiments.