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MCAT Biology Question — Retrograde Action Potentials

  • by John
  • Aug 19, 2014
  • MCAT Question of the Day

Retrograde action potentials are prevented by:

 

a) leaky K+ diffusion out of the cell

b) absolute refractory period of voltage-gated Na+ channels

c) Na+/K+ ATPase

d) temporal summation of signals from dendrites

 

Explanation:

Retrograde action potentials are prevented by the absolute refractory period of voltage-gated Na+ channels. Since recently opened Na+ channels cannot reopen, the action potential is prevented from traveling in a retrograde fashion. It can only progress anterograde down the axon. If you ever see retrograde conduction mentioned in a neuron question of the MCAT, you should be suspicious of a trap answer.

a) leaky K+ diffusion out of the cell, incorrect, K+ diffusion contributes to the resting potential and has little to do with the action potential.

b) absolute refractory period of voltage-gated Na+ channels, correct.

c) Na+/K+ ATPase, incorrect, The Na+/K+ ATPase helps establish the concentration gradient of Na+ and K+ in the neuron.

d) temporal summation of signals from dendrites, incorrect, Temporal summation of signals from dendrites contributes to action potentials and has nothing to do with anterograde signal conduction.

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