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A Quantitative Description of Membrane Current and Its Application to Conduction and Excitation in Nerve Essay

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500
J. Physiol. (I952) I I7, 500-544

A QUANTITATIVE DESCRIPTION OF MEMBRANE CURRENT AND ITS APPLICATION TO CONDUCTION AND EXCITATION IN NERVE

BY A. L. HODGKIN AND A. F. HUXLEY From the Physiological Laboratory, University of Cambridge

(Received 10 March 1952)

This article concludes a series of papers concerned with the flow of electric current through the surface membrane of a giant nerve fibre (Hodgkin, Huxley & Katz, 1952; Hodgkin & Huxley, 1952 a-c). Its general object is to discu the results of the preceding papers (Part I), to put them into mathematical form (Part II) and to show that they will account for conduction and excitation in quantitative terms (Part III).
PART I. DISCUSSION OF EXPERIMENTAL RESULTS The results described in the preceding papers suggest that the electrical behaviour of the membrane may be represented by the network shown in Fig. 1. Current can be carried through the membrane either by charging the membrane capacity or by movement of ion-s through the resistances in parallel with the capacity. The ionic current is divided into components carried by sodium and potassium ions (INa and IK), and a small 'leakage current' (I,) made up by chloride and other ions. Each component of the ionic current is determined by a driving force which may conveniently be measured as an electrical potential difference and a permeability coefficient which has the dimensions of a conductance. Thus the sodium current (INa) is equal to the sodium conductance (9Na) multiplied by the difference between the membrane potential (E) and the equilibrium potential for the sodium ion (ENa). Similar equations apply to 'K and I, and are collected on p. 505. Our experiments suggest that gNa and 9E are functions of time and membrane potential, but that ENa, EK, El, CM and g, may be taken as constant. The influence of membrane potential on permeability can be summarized by stating: first, that depolarization causes a transient increase in sodium conductance and a...

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