Many diverse studies have shown that a mechanical displacement of the axonal membrane accompanies the electrical pulse defining the action potential (AP). We present a model for these mechanical displacements as arising from the driving of surface wave modes in which potential energy is stored in elastic properties of the neuronal membrane and cytoskeleton while kinetic energy is carried by the axoplasmic fluid. In our model, these surface waves are driven by the travelling wave of electrical depolarization characterizing the AP, altering compressive electrostatic forces across the membrane. This driving leads to co-propagating mechanical displacements, which we term Action Waves (AWs). Our model allows us to estimate the shape of the AW that accompanies any travelling wave of voltage, making predictions that are in agreement with results from several experimental systems. Our model can serve as a framework for understanding the physical origins and possible functional roles of these AWs.
- Pub Date:
- March 2015
- Quantitative Biology - Neurons and Cognition;
- Condensed Matter - Soft Condensed Matter;
- Physics - Biological Physics
- 6 pages 3 figures + 2 page supplement