miscellaneous slide











Meet My Threshold

a parody of "Steal My Sunshine" (written by Marc Costanzo and Gregg Diamond and recorded by Len); new lyrics written by Sam Reid (2000) and revised by Greg Crowther (2014)


I was in my resting state
on Sunday morning of last week;
My voltage-gated gates were closed.
The sodium stayed put,
but potassium was leaked,
Thus keeping membrane voltage deep.

And then, along my axon,
there came a wave of charge --
A sodium current, fast and large.
My voltage couldnít stay
down in the range of E-sub-K
With positive feedback now in play....

I know Iíll depolarize
If I meet my threshold.
My membrane potential flies
If I meet my threshold.
Every spike a constant size
If I meet my threshold.

Well, 35 mV
is about the peak for me;
Yes, thatís where the excitement ends.
The sodium gates close,
and potassium now flows,
So my potential drops again.

Mere milliseconds pass,
and thanks to the potass-
ium this voltage excursionís done.
That last peak I forget
Ďcause my membrane is reset
To start more voltage-gated fun.


Itís all or none for me
If I meet my threshold.
Neurotransmitters are set free
If I meet my threshold.
Triggering some PSPs
If I meet my threshold.


Written for BIOL 220 at the University of Washington, this song explains action potentials, the basic mechanism by which information is transmitted down the axons of neurons. Jargon: EK represents the equilibrium potential of potassium; PSPs are (excitatory or inhibitory) Post-Synaptic Potentials.