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Galvani’s Spark – The Story of the Nerve Impulse - Oxford Scholarship Online
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Galvani’s Spark: The Story of the Nerve Impulse

Alan McComas


The nerve impulse is the basis of all human thoughts and emotions, and of all sensations and movements. As such, it has been the subject of scientific enquiry for more than two centuries, beginning with Galvani’s chance observation that a frog’s leg twitched in response to an electrostatic discharge nearby. From being a metaphysical concept, the impulse became a phenomenon that could be recorded and have its velocity determined. However, the nature of the brief permeability changes in the nerve membrane that made the impulse possible, and of the way in which the nerve endings influenced the ex ... More

Keywords: nerve impulse, synaptic transmission, ion channels, Luigi Galvani, squid axon, voltage-clamp, ion channel disorders

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2011 Print ISBN-13: 9780199751754
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2011 DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199751754.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Alan McComas, author
McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.
Author Webpage