Chapter

The Giant Axon Impaled

Alan J. McComas

in Galvani’s Spark

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780199751754
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199897094 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199751754.003.0012
The Giant Axon Impaled

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Influenced partly by William Rushton, Alan Hodgkin, a young Trinity College Fellow, has already demonstrated that there are excitability changes in the nerve membrane even when the impulse is blocked. After spending some time with Cole and Curtis in Woods Hole, Hodgkin decides to do some experiments of his own on the squid giant axon and engages Andrew Huxley, who has just finished his undergraduate studies, to help him. The two are able to insert a glass microelectrode down the interior of a giant axon and, for the first time, to record the potential across the nerve fibre membrane directly. They find that the potential reverses during the passage of the nerve impulse, the inside of the fibre becoming briefly positive with respect to the outside.

Keywords: William Rushton; Alan Hodgkin; Andrew Huxley; Plymouth; squid giant axon; intracellular microelectrode; polarity reversal

Chapter.  5735 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Neuroscience

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