Bulletin of Mathematical Biology

, Volume 35, Issue 1–2, pp 149–171 | Cite as

Towards a physical understanding of physiological excitation as a cooperative specific adsorption phenomenon

  • George Karreman


In this work an attempt is made to develop a new physical theory for physiological excitation. The theory is based on the concept of cooperative specific adsorption, an offshoot of the association-induction hypothesis originated by G. N. Ling (1962).

The basic ideas of this work are the following:
  1. 1)

    the specificity for the cooperative adsorption of potassium in exchange for sodium at certain (lipo-)protein sites, called regular sites in this work, are controlled by the cooperative adsorption of calcium in exchange for sodium at certain strategically located sites called cardinal sites by Ling (1962);

  2. 2)

    the desorption energy of potassium from the regular sites is higher when more cardinal sites have adsorbed calcium, or in other words the specificity of those sites for potassium as compared with sodium is then higher;

  3. 3)

    cathode electric stimulation withdraws calcium from the cardinal sites.


It is shown that a threshold for cathodic electric stimulation exists such that if the latter is above that threshold a phase transition occurs leading to inward sodium movement. The importance of cooperative phenomena and of the role of cardinal sites as well as that of calcium as a cardinal adsorbant in this physical theory of physiological excitation is emphasized.


Giant Axon Desorption Energy Cooperative Phenomenon Squid Giant Axon Regular Site 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Society for Mathematical Biology 1973

Authors and Affiliations

  • George Karreman
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Bockus Research InstituteUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphia
  2. 2.Department of PhysiologyUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphia

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