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Neuron transmission speeds, relative to size

Bill Skaggs bill at nsma.arizona.edu
Tue Jul 9 18:41:51 EST 1996


david at monteith.win-uk.net (David Monteith-Hodge) writes:
   > During my research I cam upon an article which stated "larger
   > brain cells conduct impulses faster than smaller ones".
   >
   > I would not know where to start to discover the truth of this
   > statement, but need to know something about it as it determines
   > whether I design and build a large sequence of experiments. Would
   > one of you erudite folk be able to throw some light onto this for
   > me? You would make a mature student ver happy. 

On the whole, neurons with thicker axons conduct impulses faster,
because their resistance per unit length is lower.  Thicker axons
impose greater metabolic demands, requiring more metabolic machinery,
some of which is localized to the cell body.  Therefore fast-
conducting neurons tend to have large cell bodies.  There is not,
however, any direct causal relationship between cell size and
conduction velocity.

	-- Bill



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