How the early voltage clamp studies of José del Castillo inform "modern" neuroscience. Academic Article uri icon


  • The description of ionic currents that flow across the membrane of the squid giant axon during an action potential sparked an interest in determining whether there were similar currents in vertebrates. The preparation of choice was the node of Ranvier in single myelinated fibers in frog. José del Castillo spent 3 years on the United States mainland from 1956 to 1959. During that time, he collaborated with Jerome Y. Lettvin and John W. Moore. I discuss how these individuals met one another and some of their scientific discoveries using the voltage clamp to study squid giant axons and frog nodes. Much of this work was conducted at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA, and I attempt to convey a sense of the unique scientific "melting pot" that existed at the Marine Biological Laboratory and the broader effect that del Castillo had on "modern" neuroscience.

publication date

  • October 2012