Quantal independence and uniformity of presynaptic release kinetics at the frog neuromuscular junction

Ellen F. Barrett, C. F. Stevens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


1. Amplitude and latency fluctuations of the end‐plate potential at the frog neuromuscular junction were studied simultaneously at low temperatures, using intracellular or focal extracellular recording techniques and average quantal contents between 0·5 and 3. 2. At the release rates studied, the evoked release of one quantum has in most cases no significant effect on the probability of subsequent quantal release to the same stimulus, confirming the mutual independence of quantal releases in this preparation. 3. An equation derived from Poisson's law was applied to a histogram of the latencies of the first quantum released on each of a series of trials, to predict the average quantal content of end‐plate responses originating at various times after nerve stimulation. The shape of the predicted time distribution of quantal contents usually agreed closely with that of the experimentally observed time distribution of end‐plate response amplitudes. This agreement demonstrates that both the amplitude and the latency fluctuations of the end‐plate response result from one presynaptic stochastic process that is uniform in magnitude and time course after each stimulus. 4. Analysis of extracellular records from synaptic regions with a history of extensive activity often suggested the existence of depressive interaction among quantal releases, perhaps caused by depletion of the supply of releasable quanta.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)665-689
Number of pages25
JournalThe Journal of Physiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 1 1972
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology


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