Encyclopedia of Computational Neuroscience

Living Edition
| Editors: Dieter Jaeger, Ranu Jung

Capacitance, Membrane

Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-7320-6_32-1


The membrane capacitance results from the fact that the plasma membrane acts as a capacitor: the phospholipid bilayer is a thin insulator separating two electrolytic media, the extracellular space and the cytoplasm. The membrane capacitance is proportional to the cell surface area and, together with the membrane resistance, determines the membrane time constant which dictates how fast the cell membrane potential responds to the flow of ion channel currents.

Detailed Description

Membrane capacitance is the electrical capacitance associated with a biological membrane, expressed in units of Farads (F). The electrical capacitance of a biological membrane results from the membrane composition of a bilayer of mostly phospholipids that form an insulating matrix to which proteins are attached or embedded. The total membrane capacitance cmof a cell is a quantity directly proportional to the membrane surface area and the dielectric properties of the membrane, provided that the...


Membrane Capacitance Cell Surface Area Membrane Surface Area Membrane Time Constant Voltage Clamp Method 
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This work was supported in part by NIH grants MH064711 and MH060605 and NSF grant DMS 1122291.


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Federated Department of Biological SciencesNew Jersey Institute of TechnologyNewarkUSA