This applet gives an introduction to the
spread of excitation on an axon based on a spatially
This applet was written by Thomas Pollinger.
Notice that the applet may only be viewed with a browser that has a Java virtual machine for Java 1.1 built in.
Spike Propagation on a Hodgkin-Huxley Axon
This applet simulates the propagation of action potentials on
axons made up of Hodgkin-Huxley like compartments put in a
This applet is quite similar to the previous one
on the Hodgkin-Huxley model.
If you have problems getting started,
look at the description of the input fields
Notice that the axon is stimulated at its front end (first compartment)
by means of an injected current.
The graph below the input fields shows the membrane voltage of
four compartments, the 1st, the 4th, the 36th and the 40th (last)
outline the time course of an action potential at different locations
along the axon.
A spike will be artificially produced in the first compartment by means of
The compartments are linked to each other at their sides.
This is represented schematically by the axial resistance Ra.
The higher this resistance, the less current can flow from one
compartment to its neighbours.
You can see two green graphs that represent the membrane voltage for the
compartments 1 and 4 and two blue graphs for the compartment 36 and 40.
The spike moves along the axon as you can see in the time shift between t
- Consider the applet above you.
- Click on "run" to start the simulation.
- Try to estimate the speed of the action potential for the obtained plot. Notice that the compartment width is 1mm.
Now, try to run a simulation with the axial resistance set to 0.01. You
will discover that the green graphs are delayed at the beginning.
This is due to small injection current so that the membrane currents are
not strong enough to accumlate the sodium ions inside the axon to go
beyond the threshold.
Take a stronger injection current (for example 5). What can you observe?
- Change the axial resistance from 0.03 to 0.015
- Start a new simulation
- Observation? Speed of spike for this new axial resistance?
- Change axial resistance to 0.03
- Click on "clear".
- Start simulation
- Change axial resistance to 0.06
- Begin simulation