An action potential is an electrical charge that propagates along a cellular membrane. This electrical charge is used to communicate between different systems within an organism. Neurons are the primary cell type that generates action potentials though they can be generated by a range of cell types. Action potentials result from the movement of ions across a cell membrane, through voltage-gated ion channels. The action potential was first described in frogs in 1862, by the Russian physiologist Friedrich Bidder. Later work used the squid giant axon, a particularly convenient physiological system established by Harry Grundfest in the 1940s at Columbia University.
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