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On Saltatory Conduction in Peripheral Myelinated Nerve


Wolfgram, Frederick John (1952) On Saltatory Conduction in Peripheral Myelinated Nerve. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/9H5K-DZ62.


Anatomically speaking, there are two types of nerve fibers in vertebrates: myelinated and unmyelinated fibers. In the former the axon is covered with a protein-lipid structure (myelin) which is interrupted at more or less regular intervals (Ranvier nodes). In unmyelinated fibers this myelin structure is absent. Myelinated fibers conduct impulses much faster than unmyelinated fibers. In order to account for the high conduction velocities of medullated nerves, Lillie has proposed that excitation takes place only at the nodes of Ranvier with the circuit between adjacent nodes being made through the axoplasm of the fiber and the medium external to the fiber. This is the theory of saltatory conduction.

The literature on saltatory conduction is critically reviewed and it is concluded that only two experiments that have been done seem to indicate that saltatory conduction occurs. These are the narcosis experiments of Taskai and the air gap experiments of Huxley and Frankenhaeuser. These experiments have been carefully repeated and improved. From the results of these experiments it is concluded that medullated nerve can conduct in a situation where the conditions necessary for saltation do not exist. The possibility that saltation is the normal physiological process of conduction cannot be discounted.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Biology, (Animal Physiology and Biochemistry )
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Major Option:Biology
Minor Option:Biochemistry
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Van Harreveld, Anthonie
Thesis Committee:
  • Unknown, Unknown
Defense Date:1 January 1952
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:02062012-115321570
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:6810
Deposited By: Benjamin Perez
Deposited On:06 Feb 2012 21:29
Last Modified:17 May 2023 16:26

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