Natural electromagnetic waveguide structures based on myelin sheath in the neural system
The saltatory propagation of action potentials on myelinated axons is conventionally explained by the mechanism employing local circuit ionic current flows between nodes of Ranvier. Under this framework, the myelin sheath with up to 100 layers of membrane only serves as the insulating shell. The speed of action potentials is measured to be as fast as 100 m/s on myelinated axons, but ions move in fluids at just 100 nm/s in a 1 V/m electric field. We show here the action potentials, in the form of electromagnetic (EM) pulses, can propagate in natural EM waveguide structures formed by the myelin sheath merged in fluids. The propagation time is mainly cost on the duration for triggering EM pulses at nodes of Ranvier. The result clearly reveals the evolution of axons from the unmyelinated to the myelinated, which has remarkably enhanced the propagation efficiency by increasing the thickness of myelin sheath.
- Pub Date:
- October 2012
- Quantitative Biology - Neurons and Cognition;
- Condensed Matter - Soft Condensed Matter;
- Physics - Biological Physics
- 24 pages, 7 figures