Encyclopedia of Computational Neuroscience

Living Edition
| Editors: Dieter Jaeger, Ranu Jung

Thermodynamic Models of Ion Channels

  • Alain DestexheEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-7320-6_136-1


Thermodynamic models provide a kinetic description of ion channels starting from first principles. Instead of using empirical functions for the voltage dependence of the parameters of the ion channel, they are deduced from a physically plausible framework. This framework formalizes the effect of the interaction between the electric field and the ion channel. This interaction can be linear or nonlinear, leading to different classes of models for voltage-dependent ion channels.

Detailed Description


The first quantitative description of the voltage dependence of ionic currents and their role in generating action potentials was provided by Hodgkin and Huxley (1952). This description, however, was semiempirical. They postulated that the ionic conductance was dependent on the assembly of “gating particles,” acting independently and in a voltage-dependent manner. This formalism gave rise to the well-known Hodgkin-Huxley set of equations, which could account...

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Further Reading

  1. Destexhe A, Mainen ZF, Sejnowski TJ (1994) Synthesis of models for excitable membranes, synaptic transmission and neuromodulation using a common kinetic formalism. J Comput Neurosci 1:195–230PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Johnston D, Wu SM (1995) Foundations of cellular neurophysiology. MIT Press, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Unit of Neuroscience Information and Complexity (UNIC)Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS)Gif-sur-YvetteFrance