Data transformations for improved display and fitting of single-channel dwell time histograms

Biophys J. 1987 Dec;52(6):1047-54. doi: 10.1016/S0006-3495(87)83298-8.


A.L. Blatz and K.L. Magleby (1986a. J. Physiol. [Lond.]. 378:141-174) have demonstrated the usefulness of plotting histograms with a logarithmic time axis to display the distributions of dwell times from recordings of single ionic channels. We derive here the probability density function (pdf) corresponding to logarithmically binned histograms. Plotted on a logarithmic time scale the pdf is a peaked function with an invariant width; this and other properties of the pdf, coupled with a variance-stabilizing (square root) transformation for the ordinate, greatly simplify the interpretation and manual fitting of distributions containing multiple exponential components. We have also examined the statistical errors in estimation, by the maximum-likelihood method, of kinetic parameters from logarithmically binned data. Using binned data greatly accelerates the fitting procedure and introduces significant errors only for bins spaced more widely than 8-16 per decade.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Ion Channels / physiology*
  • Mathematics
  • Models, Biological*
  • Probability
  • Time Factors


  • Ion Channels