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resting potential

the imbalance of electrical charge that exists between the interior of electrically excitable nerve cells and their surroundings. The resting potential of electrically excitable cells lies in the range of 60 to 95 millivolts (1 millivolt = 0.001 volt), with the inside of the cell negatively charged. If the inside of a cell becomes more electronegative (i.e., if the potential is made greater than the resting potential), the membrane or the cell is said to be hyperpolarized. If the inside of the cell becomes less negative (i.e., the potential decreases below the resting potential), the process is called depolarization.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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