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When ionotropic receptors are activated, certain ion species such as Na to enter the postsynaptic neuron, which depolarizes the postsynaptic membrane.
If more of the same type of postsynaptic receptors are activated, then more Na will enter the postsynaptic membrane and depolarize cell.
The Hodgkin–Huxley model of an action potential in the squid giant axon has been the basis for much of the current understanding of the ionic bases of action potentials.
Briefly, the model states that the generation of an action potential is determined by two ions: Na and K .
Metabotropic receptors on the other hand activate second messenger cascade systems that result in the opening of ion channel located some place else on the same postsynaptic membrane.
Opening of NMDA channels (which relates to the level of cellular depolarization) leads to a rise in post-synaptic Ca2 concentration and this has been linked to long-term potentiation, LTP (as well as to protein kinase activation); strong depolarization of the post-synaptic cell completely displaces the magnesium ions that block NMDA ion channels and allows calcium ions to enter a cell – probably causing LTP, while weaker depolarization only partially displaces the Mg2 ions, resulting in less Ca2 entering the post-synaptic neuron and lower intracellular Ca2 concentrations (which activate protein phosphatases and induce long-term depression, LTD).The undershoot phase occurs because unlike voltage-gated sodium channels, voltage-gated potassium channels inactivate much more slowly.Nevertheless, as more voltage-gated K channels become inactivated, the membrane potential recovers to its normal resting steady state..Neurons are diverse with respect to morphology and function.Thus, not all neurons correspond to the stereotypical motor neuron with dendrites and myelinated axons that conduct action potentials.
As Na ions enter the cell, the membrane potential is further depolarized, and more voltage-gated sodium channels are activated.