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To clarify, I'm asking if the level of stimulation / polarization required for a neuron to reach action potential / excite the neuron varies significantly from neuron to neuron- even differing in neurons of the same type.

And if so, I'm curious to know whether the number of the neurons feeding into a neuron (and the frequency by which they normally fire) corresponds to the level of stimulation required for excitement. I'm wondering if neurons' thresholds for action have sensitivities (levels of input required to reach action potential) based on the number of neurons feeding into them in order to create a balance of input rate / excitement rate.

To rephrase the question, I'd like to know if the action threshold of a neuron changes to fit the frequency with which it's excited.

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  • $\begingroup$ If anyone cares to correct my lack of proper neuroscience vocabulary with proper terminology, feel free to do so, whether it be via edit or comment. $\endgroup$ – Viziionary Oct 22 '17 at 17:09
  • $\begingroup$ Could I delete the middle paragraph and still have expressed the question fully? $\endgroup$ – Viziionary Oct 22 '17 at 17:16
  • $\begingroup$ What do you mean by frequency? Do you mean the rate of EPSPs? $\endgroup$ – StrongBad Oct 22 '17 at 20:06
  • $\begingroup$ @StrongBad I'm referring only to the frequency with which the neuron is excited by other connected neurons. Maybe "excited" isn't the best word, what term would I use to express the transfer of electric signal from one neuron (after reaching action threshold) to another? $\endgroup$ – Viziionary Oct 22 '17 at 20:35
  • $\begingroup$ Neurons do not transfer the electric signal. The action potential causes neurotransmitter to be released, which then crosses the synapse, which then results in depolarization, and possibly an action potential. That is why the concept of frequency seems odd to me. $\endgroup$ – StrongBad Oct 22 '17 at 20:38
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The key to determining if depolarizing a neuron will result in an action potential is the threshold potential of the cell. The threshold potential is basically the voltage, around -55 mV, at which the Na+ channels open. A number of factors (covered in Wikipedia) affect the exact threshold potential.

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  • $\begingroup$ I read that Wikipedia page some time ago - so you're say the means specified in the page cover all known ways that the threshold can be affected? I'm never quite sure how thorough Wikipedia is on a topic. $\endgroup$ – Viziionary Oct 22 '17 at 20:32
  • $\begingroup$ @Viziionary you asked do they vary, to which I provided a link that says yes. If instead you are interested in all factors that affect the threshold potential, that is a different question. $\endgroup$ – StrongBad Oct 22 '17 at 20:36
  • $\begingroup$ Well I asked "Do they vary significantly" ... "and if so, are they affected by [this specific factor]" I did recall that the thresholds shift, but not whether the change could be dramatic or more or less fairly similar. $\endgroup$ – Viziionary Oct 22 '17 at 20:37

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