Europhys. Lett, 36 (4), pp. 313-318 (1996)

Potential distribution on a neuronal somatic membrane during an action potential

G. Renversez and O. Parodi

Centre de Physique Théorique (UPR CNRS 7061), CNRS - Luminy case 907, F-13288 Marseille cedex 9, France

PACS. 87.22Fy - Active transport processes across biological membranes; intracellular electron transport; energy transduction (including photosynthesis and oxidative phosphorylation).
PACS. 87.22Jb - Muscle contraction, nerve conduction, synaptic transmission, memorization, and other neurophysiological processes (excluding perception processes and speech).


In recent experiments, inhomogeneities in the somatic membrane potential of a firing neuron have been observed by Gogan et al. Ion channel interactions result in collective behavior which might lead to spontaneous symmetry breaking. The simulations presented in this paper show that, with a uniform distribution of ion channels, such spontaneous symmetry breaking is not to be expected. On the other hand, a nonuniform distribution of ion channels effectively leads to a nonuniform membrane potential distribution. The inhomogeneities therefore must reflect inhomogeneities in the spatial distribution of ion channels.