Encyclopedia of Computational Neuroscience

Living Edition
| Editors: Dieter Jaeger, Ranu Jung

Voltage-Clamp Technique

  • Thomas Nowotny
  • Rafael Levi
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-7320-6_137-2


Voltage clamp is an electrophysiological technique to record electrical currents in biological membranes. It is based on the principle that the current flowing through a cell membrane can be estimated by “clamping” the membrane potential to a constant value using the injection of a mirror current – a current of the same amplitude but reversed polarity.

In practice, the method is used primarily to characterize voltage-dependent conductances in the membrane of neurons by clamping the cells to different stepping potentials. The clamp is achieved with a circuit that quickly detects deviations from the stepping potential and generates currents to correct this deviation. Knowing this current gives the current in the membrane.

Detailed Description


The first implementations of voltage clamp go back to Cole (1949) and Hodgkin et al. (1952) and were instrumental in elucidating the mechanism of action potential generation.

In these early implementations, voltage clamp was...


Current Injection Voltage Clamp Electrode Capacitance Measured Membrane Potential Dynamic Clamp 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Computational Neuroscience and Robotics, School of Engineering and InformaticsUniversity of SussexBrightonUK
  2. 2.The Whitney Laboratory for Marine BioscienceUniversity of FloridaAugustineUSA