(1) The movement of action potential along a nerve fiber in response to a stimulus (such as touch, pain, heat or cold).
(2) The relaying of a coded signal that travels along a nerve cell membrane to an effector, such as muscle, gland or another nerve cell.
A nerve impulse is the relaying of a coded signal from a nerve cell to an effector (a muscle cell, a gland cell or another nerve cell) in response to a stimulus. It is the means by which a nerve cell communicates with another cell. This signal is relayed along the axon of the nerve cell, bringing a message that instructs an effector to act. For instance, in neuromuscular junction, the nerve impulse moves along the axon of a nerve cell to instruct a muscle cell to contract.
Word origin: nerve + impulse
See also: action potential.