Neuromembranes: Paths of Ions

  • Kenneth S. Cole


It has seemed to me that probably the simplest, and certainly the most basic, activity underlying the functions of the nervous system is that of communication, and that the development of fast, reliable, and unlimited communication by axons is one of its most superb achievements. Whatever the evolutionary process by which axons appeared, certainly the crucial step was the creation of an electrical control of cell-membrane permeability to ions—now usually sodium and potassium—even in the absence of metabolism. Rather than speculating on how this marvelous machine came about, I will only sketch something of what I know about how we found out what it does and our efforts to find out how it does them. Nor will I speculate on the dynamics of my part along the path—which is only a path in retrospect. My choices have always been of only the next step or two, and in these I can only claim an extraordinary amount of very good luck. Even luckier has been the tender, loving care I have been given along the way by more persons than I can count, and I regret that I have seldom appreciated it adequately. Of course, I’ve sometimes gone far astray and also I’ve been battered around a bit. But I survived, and besides, you can’t be unlucky all the time either.


Membrane Potential Sodium Current Membrane Capacity Good Luck Axon Membrane 
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© Birkhäuser Boston 1992

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  • Kenneth S. Cole

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