Accommodation

Accommodation is defined as a change in the threshold of an excitable membrane when slow depolarization is applied. In the previous examples, rapid depolarization is applied, and the threshold occurs at a relatively fixed membrane potential (e.g., Fig. 3). When a slowly developing depolarization is applied, however, the threshold is frequently at a more depolarized level and, indeed, if the depolarization is slow enough, no action potential will be initiated despite the level of depolarization. The process of Na+ inactivation contributes to the phenomenon of accommodation. Essentially, slow depolarization provides sufficient time for the Na+ channels to inactivate before they can be sufficiently activated. In terms of the molecular model of Fig. 15, an insufficient number of Na+ channels are in state B because they are already in state C.

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