Excitability

Definition

Excitability is a property of a cell, allowing it to respond to stimulation by rapid changes in membrane potential produced by ion fluxes across the plasma membrane. This is most commonly associated with neurons, but more recently astrocytes have also been shown to exhibit ‘cellular excitability’, resulting from changes in calcium ion concentration in the cytosol.

Latest Research and Reviews

News and Comment

  • News and Views |

    Inhibitory optogenetic tools prevent action potential generation during illumination. A study explores the possibility of squelching already propagating action potentials locally at axon terminals before they trigger neurotransmitter release.

    • J Simon Wiegert
    •  & Thomas G Oertner
    Nature Neuroscience 19, 527–528
  • News and Views |

    Three studies in visual and auditory cortex show that intracortical excitatory inputs amplify incoming sensory signals, as their sensory tuning is closely matched to that arriving from the sensory thalamus.

    • Yunyun Han
    •  & Thomas Mrsic-Flogel
    Nature Neuroscience 16, 1166–1168
  • Research Highlights |

    The recruitment of V2a interneurons to increase swimming speed in zebrafish is incremental and is determined by the combined effect of their excitatory synaptic currents and input resistance.

    • Monica Hoyos Flight
  • News and Views |

    Neurons generate their output signal — the action potential — in a distinct region of the axon called the initial segment. The location and extent of this trigger zone can be modified by neural activity to control excitability.

    • Jan Gründemann
    •  & Michael Häusser
    Nature 465, 1022–1023
  • Comments and Opinion |

    In the past, neuropathic pain in patients with diabetes has been largely attributed to hyperexcitability of peripheral nerves, but a key role for central mechanisms has emerged from studies conducted over the past 5 years. In this article, Fischer and Waxman discuss findings that implicate thalamic neurons in the central generation and amplification of pain in diabetes.

    • Tanya Z. Fischer
    •  & Stephen G. Waxman