A computer simulation of conduction in demyelinated nerve fibres

J Physiol. 1972 Dec;227(2):351-64. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.1972.sp010036.


1. The theoretical effects of demyelination on conduction of a propagated impulse have been examined in a computer simulated myelinated nerve fibre. Demyelination was simulated by increasing the capacitance and conductance of the myelin sheath of individual internodes or parts of internodes.2. Internodal conduction time increased as myelin thickness was decreased. The increase in internodal conduction time became more precipitous as the myelin became thinner. Propagation continued past a single demyelinated internode until myelin thickness was uniformly reduced to less than 2.7% of normal myelin thickness.3. Paranodal demyelination was more effective in slowing impulse conduction than was uniform demyelination of an entire internode with an equivalent rise in overall internodal capacitance and conductance.4. The effects on conduction of demyelination of two adjacent internodes or of two internodes separated by a normal internode were more than the sum of the effects of demyelination of each internode individually.5. Propagation across a severely demyelinated internode was blocked with an increase in internal sodium concentration which had a trivial effect on conduction in a normal fibre.6. Propagation across a severely demyelinated internode was blocked with increased temperature at a temperature at which propagation proceeds normally across normal internodes.7. The similarity between the findings of the computer simulations and the experimental findings in demyelinated fibres is discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials
  • Amphibians
  • Animals
  • Axons / physiology*
  • Computers
  • Mammals
  • Models, Neurological*
  • Myelin Sheath / physiology*
  • Neural Conduction*
  • Ranvier's Nodes / physiology
  • Sodium / physiology
  • Temperature


  • Sodium