Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 17, Issue 2, pp 190–205

The equilibration time course of [K+]0 in cat cortex

  • H. D. Lux
  • E. Neher

DOI: 10.1007/BF00235028

Cite this article as:
Lux, H.D. & Neher, E. Exp Brain Res (1973) 17: 190. doi:10.1007/BF00235028


Steady state and transient values of intracortical potassium were measured with K+ sensitive microelectrodes. Resting intracortical K+ activity is low and resembles that of cerebrospinal fluid. Elevation of intracortical K+ was brought about by electrophoretic injection of K+ by a constant current source from a KCl containing micropipette at fixed distances from the recording electrode. The intracortical K+ responses to electrophoretic K+ injection were compared with those in a medium of 150 mM/l NaCl plus 3 mM/l KCl. The dependence of intracortical K+ steady state levels on electrophoretic currents is nearly linear, but the K+ response in the cortex was about six times higher than in saline. Half times (T1/2) of the rising and falling phases of K+ during current steps were found to be prolonged by the same degree in the cortex. The distribution of [K+]0 appears to be dominated by free diffusion with an apparent diffusion coefficient of 1/6 that in the medium. Primarily diffusional redistribution may also apply to K+ which is released by direct cortical stimulation. K+ released by brief stimulation distributes faster than K+ during and after prolonged continuous stimulation with average T1/2 of 1.2 and 3.0 sec respectively in accordance with diffusion from instantaneous and continuous point sources. For small [K+]0 changes, deviations from diffusional kinetics were found to be about one-fifth of absolute [K+]0 values and became predominant at times longer than 10 T1/2. They can be ascribed to K+ uptake mechanisms. DC recorded cortical surface potentials reveal close relations to the slopes of intracortical potassium activity.

Key words

K+ specific microelectrodes Extracellular space Diffusion in brain tissue Cortical DC potentials 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1973

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. D. Lux
    • 1
  • E. Neher
    • 1
  1. 1.Max-Planck-Institut für PsychiatrieMünchenFRG

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