Specific membrane properties of cat motoneurones

J. N. Barrett, W. E. Crill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

188 Scopus citations


Electrophysiological properties of cat motoneurones were measured using intracellular electrodes, after which Procion dye was injected iontophoretically into the neurone through the recording pipette. Histological procedures were chosen to minimize changes in neuronal morphology. Reconstructed motoneurones had more dendritic branches and larger surface areas than the Golgi stained motoneurones of earlier reports. The sum of the 3/2 power of the dendritic diameters (the dendritic trunk parameter; Rall, 1959) of the reconstructed motoneurones was found to decrease with distance from the soma. Thus, the dendritic tree is not satisfactorily approximated by a non tapering membrane cylinder. A computational technique was developed to allow calculation of the specific resistance (Rm) of the membrane using the measured value of the input resistance of the motoneurone and a more detailed approximation of the dendritic tree. These calculations indicate that the average resting value of dendritic Rm is at least 1800 ohm cm2. The specific membrane capacity, calculated assuming uniform Rm, ranged between 2-3 μF/cm2.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)301-324
Number of pages24
JournalThe Journal of Physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 1974
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology


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