Analogy of Conduction Action Potentials

Post your response to the following: On p. 72 of the text, in the Thinking Clearly section, the conduction action potentials and activation of neurotransmitters are related to a row of mousetraps on a wobbly shelf. Think of another analogy you can use to describe the conduction of action potentials and activation of neurotransmitters.

Have any of you ever seen the movie Poseidon? I like the movie because I have always liked Kurt Russell in action movies (favorite of all time being Soldier). Anyways at one point during the movie they find themselves trapped in a ballast chamber. Now the only way out is for them to manually open the ballast chamber vent and drown themselves. When the pressure in the flooded chamber reaches a certain level a vent opens into the next ballast carrying them to the next ballast. They continued this until they entered a ballast that has an escape hatch they could get out though. In this analogy, the ballast vent is the synapses and the people are the chemical “information” which is being transmitted. Now when the actors decided to fill the first ballast they pull a lever, but the ballast does not automatically open to the next ballast until that ballast is full. This is important because action potentials do not take place until “…the membrane potential of the axon is reduced to the threshold of excitation” (Pinel, 2007, 71). (i.e. until the water fills the ballast) Now when the water completely fills the ballast the gate to the next ballast opens and the people are transmitted to the next ballast. In this way, the people (chemical information) can be transmitted from one ballast (neuron) to another until the end destination is attained.


Pinel, J.J. (2007). Basics of biopsychology. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.


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