Electrotonic characteristics of alpha motoneurones of varying size

J Physiol. 1971 Jan;212(1):120.


1. The neuronal membrane responses to long constant current pulses (essentially current steps) have been studied in cat triceps surae motoneurones identified as to the type of muscle fibres, fast twitch (type F) or slow twitch (type S), innervated by the cell being studied. For each motoneurone the membrane time constant, tau(M), and input resistance, R(N), were determined from the response to a current step. In addition, shorter time constants (;equalizing time constants') resulting from current spread into the dendrites were estimated by graphical analysis.2. The electrotonic length of the combined motoneurone soma and dendritic tree was estimated from the current step data using the neuronal equivalent cylinder model formulated by Rall (Rall, 1969). The mean electrotonic length of the motoneurone equivalent cylinder was approximately 1.5 in both type F and type S motoneurones. The mean membrane time constant of type F cells was 5.6 msec and that of type S motoneurones was 6.7 msec. This difference in mean tau(M) values was of border line statistical significance.3. The results indicate that the electrotonic length of the combined dendritic trees of both large type F and small type S motoneurones is essentially the same. The implication of this conclusion for interpretation of previous analyses of the monosynaptic EPSP is discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials
  • Animals
  • Cats
  • Cell Membrane / physiology
  • Dendrites / physiology