How do our brains produce electricity for nervous impulses?



How do our brains produce electricity for nervous impulses?

In: Biology

It isn’t normal electrical conduction; it’s ion flow. Neurons are a length of tubing, with sodium gates all over the surface, and when they’re sitting around they pump sodium outside themselves. It wants to flow back in (diffusion) but can’t, so it sits there banging on the gates.

The gates are charge-sensitive, so when one gate pops open and sodium rushes in, that triggers nearby gates to also open, and that lets more sodium rush in, which triggers more gates, and so on. You get a ripple effect that travels from one end of the cell towards the other, and that ripple of charge is what we call an ‘electrochemical impulse’. That’s what our nerves work by. Very different from the “electrons flowing through metal conductors” thing that runs our machines.

So electricity is simply the flow of charged particles (ions). Within our cells we have many ions and the movement of those ions is controlled by channels. Now the amount of ions within cells is different than the amount outside of the cells and this creates a gradient.

For nerve impulses the important ions are sodium and potassium. Nerve cells maintain a negative charge compared to outside when at rest which means they have less sodium and potassium than the outside. When a nervous impulse happens one of the channels on the outside of the cell is opened and sodium and potassium rush into the cell.