Basic Principles 89
Determinants of Propagation Velocity 90 Time Constant 90 Space Constant 91
Relationship Between Propagation Velocity and the Time and Space Constants 92
Up to this point, we have been considering the ionic mechanisms that underlie the action potential in a dimensionless nerve cell. However, one of the important features of action potentials is that, not only are they elicited in an all-or-nothing fashion, but they also are propagated in an all-or-nothing fashion. If an action potential is initiated in the cell body, it will propagate without decrement along the axon and eventually invade the synaptic terminal. An action potential recorded in the nerve axon has an amplitude and time course identical to the action potential that was initiated in the
Conduction in Myelinated Axons 93 Extracellular Recordings from Excitable Membranes 93
Extracellular Recording From a Single Axon 94 Extracellular Recording From a Nerve Bundle 95
cell body. It is the ability of action potentials to propagate in this all-or-nothing fashion that endows the nervous system with the capability to transmit information over long distances.
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