Foundations Of Cognitive Science

Graded Potential

The inputs to a neuron are weak electrical signals, called graded potentials, which stimulate and travel through the dendrites of the receiving neuron (Levitan & Kaczmarek, 1991).  These signals degrade over time and distance travelled, but their cumulative effect (when they are summed in the soma of a cell) is capable of instigating an action potential.  The notion of summing graded potentials is equivalent to the connectionist notion of a processor summing its input signals (i.e. computing its net input function) prior to computing internal activity (Dawson, 2004).


  1. Dawson, M. R. W. (2004). Minds And Machines: Connectionism And Psychological Modeling. Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub.
  2. Levitan, I. B., & Kaczmarek, L. K. (1991). The Neuron: Cell And Molecular Biology. New York: Oxford University Press.
(Added April 2011)