Current flow in neurons (was Re: Auditory Impulse Travel and Distance)

Mark Plutowski pluto at koko.ucsd.edu
Mon Jun 24 20:05:56 EST 1991


bjones at uhunix1.uhcc.Hawaii.Edu (Bradley R. Jones) writes:

>While correct in a general sense, this description is not technically
>accurate.  Passive electrical conduction in neurons does not occur at
>the diffusion rate of the ions in the cell.  Electrical conduction in
>neurons occurs just as in wires: at the speed of light.  
				  ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Not to pick nits, as I get the point you are making, but is the portion
marked with "^^^" approximately true in practice?  Even in wires, since
current occurs by movement of charge associated with massive particles, 
(for example, as carried by electrons,) it will be very fast, and, may be taken
to be close to the speed of light in vacuum, but will not equal it
due to the mass on the charge carrying particles.

My question is, is the electrical conduction speed in neurons fast enough that 
assuming it to be close to the speed of light causes negligible error in the 
analysis?



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