Neuro-poetry #4 – Action Potentials

Note: please review this poem for the anatomy of a brain cell — a neuron!

An important signal bounces along an axon —

the tubing which wires the signal to its destination.

This process is miraculous — an intricate combination of

chemistry, biology and magic.

First, let’s call negatively charged ions blue seeds,

and positively charged ions red seeds. 

To begin the process, spindles — dendrites — receive an input of red seeds,

increasing the positivity in the cell body

where there were mostly blue seeds.

If the input is strong enough,

and a specific amount of red seeds are absorbed in,

then there is now a potential for action — 

an action potential will crack and burst,

all-or-nothing.

The difference,

between a vigorous, potent signal

and a feeble, weak signal,

is the frequency with which the neuron can blaze an action potential.

The connection between the cell body and the axon,

is the axon hillock,

where the signal will begin to flow 

as an electric wave of information through the axon, 

perpetuated only by the delicate flux of red and blue seeds.

Within the tube, there is also a negative charge —

there are more blue seeds than red,

in comparison with the external environment.

  1. Depolarization

Small doors, pores, in the skin membrane of the axon,

allow red seeds to flow in,

creating a positively charged space. 

Depolarization is a headstrong traveller, 

spreading relentlessly forward through the tube,

toward its duty.

  1. Repolarization

Different doors now open, propelling the red seeds out of the axon,

creating a negatively charged space, once again.

Repolarization is a lifter, 

following depolarization, closely in her wake,

pushing her forward.

  1. Hyperpolarization

As the blue seeds become dominant, 

the axon becomes a bit too negative, and thus, 

there is a refractory period —

the cell cannot initiate another action potential for a little while. 

Hyperpolarization calms, 

pausing the vibe of the energy in this life

of invigorating, beating, type-A signals,

for just a moment of needed rest and recalibration.

I’d love to hear from you: mbrewer@magnifywellness.org

Artwork designed by: Saavi Shinde

Audio version: here !

Apply for the Magnify Wellness Writing Contest! The top three writers will: get their work featured on the Magnify Wellness blog, be spotlighted on our social media platforms, and receive a certificate signed by Director of Writing, COO, and CEO of Magnify Wellness! Apply here!

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