Journal of Computational Neuroscience

, Volume 45, Issue 3, pp 193–206 | Cite as

Modeling the interactions between stimulation and physiologically induced APs in a mammalian nerve fiber: dependence on frequency and fiber diameter

  • Vijay SadashivaiahEmail author
  • Pierre Sacré
  • Yun Guan
  • William S. Anderson
  • Sridevi V. Sarma


Electrical stimulation of nerve fibers is used as a therapeutic tool to treat neurophysiological disorders. Despite efforts to model the effects of stimulation, its underlying mechanisms remain unclear. Current mechanistic models quantify the effects that the electrical field produces near the fiber but do not capture interactions between action potentials (APs) initiated by stimulus and APs initiated by underlying physiological activity. In this study, we aim to quantify the effects of stimulation frequency and fiber diameter on AP interactions involving collisions and loss of excitability. We constructed a mechanistic model of a myelinated nerve fiber receiving two inputs: the underlying physiological activity at the terminal end of the fiber, and an external stimulus applied to the middle of the fiber. We define conduction reliability as the percentage of physiological APs that make it to the somatic end of the nerve fiber. At low input frequencies, conduction reliability is greater than 95% and decreases with increasing frequency due to an increase in AP interactions. Conduction reliability is less sensitive to fiber diameter and only decreases slightly with increasing fiber diameter. Finally, both the number and type of AP interactions significantly vary with both input frequencies and fiber diameter. Modeling the interactions between APs initiated by stimulus and APs initiated by underlying physiological activity in a nerve fiber opens opportunities towards understanding mechanisms of electrical stimulation therapies.


Action potential interactions Conduction reliability Nerve fiber Mechanistic model Electrical stimulation 



Work supported by NIH R01 AT009401 to S.V.S, Y.G., and W.S.A., and by NPRI postdoctoral fellowship awarded to P.S. We would like to thank Dr. Michael Caterina, Neurosurgery Pain Research Institute, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine for valuable and insightful discussions.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interests

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Computational Medicine, Department of Biomedical EngineeringThe Johns Hopkins UniversityBaltimoreUSA
  2. 2.Department of Anesthesiology/Critical Care MedicineThe Johns Hopkins University School of MedicineBaltimoreUSA
  3. 3.Department of NeurosurgeryThe Johns Hopkins University School of MedicineBaltimoreUSA

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