Alan J. McComas

in Galvani’s Spark

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780199751754
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199897094 | DOI:

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Lorente de Nó is unable to accept the giant axon work. Hodgkin, however, presses on and shows that it is possible to replace the interior of a giant axon with a potassium solution; the resting membrane potential is maintained and action potentials can still be elicited. Reversing the potassium concentration gradient across the membrane reverses the membrane potential. Hodgkin’s Cambridge colleague, Richard Keynes, uses isotopes to demonstrate a small inward flux of sodium ions across the resting membrane, and then shows, with Hodgkin, that the ions are then expelled by an energy-dependent process. This process is identified elsewhere as the work of a sodium-potassium pump in the membrane. Meawhile Huxley, with Stampfli, demonstrates that the action potential travels down a myelinated nerve fibre by jumping from one node of Ranvier to the next. The density of sodium channels in the membrane at a node is estimated and the remarkable efficiency of the channels demonstrated

Keywords: Alan Hodgkin; Andrew Huxley; Richard Keynes; ion fluxes; sodium-potassium pump; saltatory conduction; channel density

Chapter.  4385 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Neuroscience

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