Automaticity can be defined as the ability of a cell to alter its resting membrane potential toward the excitation threshold without the influence of an external stimulus. The characteristic feature of cells with automaticity is a slow decrease in the membrane potential during diastole (phase 4) such that the membrane potential reaches threshold (Figure 16.2). During phase 4 in these pacemaker cells, the background potassium leak current decreases and an inward depolarizing current (If) is
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