The new nanophysiology: regulation of ionic flow in neuronal subcompartments. Academic Article uri icon


  • Cable theory and the Goldman-Hodgkin-Huxley-Katz models for the propagation of ions and voltage within a neuron have provided a theoretical foundation for electrophysiology and been responsible for many cornerstone advances in neuroscience. However, these theories break down when they are applied to small neuronal compartments, such as dendritic spines, synaptic terminals or small neuronal processes, because they assume spatial and ionic homogeneity. Here we discuss a broader theory that uses the Poisson-Nernst-Planck (PNP) approximation and electrodiffusion to more accurately model the constraints that neuronal nanostructures place on electrical current flow. This extension of traditional cable theory could advance our understanding of the physiology of neuronal nanocompartments.

publication date

  • November 2015