Order From Randomness: Spontaneous Firing From Stochastic Properties of Ion Channels

  • Louis J. DeFelice
  • William N. Goolsby
Part of the Institute for Nonlinear Science book series (INLS)


Imagine that you have an isolated neuron of a certain size that is not firing, it has no inputs that stimulate action potentials and it has, apparently, no internal pacemaker. Suppose that you reduce the size of the Cell. but keep intact all the properties of the Cell. membrane—the types of channels, the density of channels, and the membrane capacitance per unit area. What will happen? If the original neuron was excitable, that is, if it was capable of generating an action potential when stimulated, then at a certain diminished size, the neuron would begin to fire without external stimulation. We may conclude that the neuron did have an intrinsic pacemaker, but that it was suppressed at the larger size. Merely scaling the neuron without changing any other property can cause a previously quiescent Cell. to fire repetitively. This is the phenomenon we wish to discuss.


Stochastic Resonance Membrane Area Membrane Capacitance Spontaneous Firing Stochastic Property 
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© Springer-Verlag New York, Inc. 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Louis J. DeFelice
  • William N. Goolsby

There are no affiliations available

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