Selective Activation of peripheral nerve fibre groups of different diameter by triangular shaped stimulus pulses

J Physiol. 1977 Dec;273(3):539-60. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.1977.sp012109.


1. The differential block of cutaneous nerve fibres has been achieved with a simple method of electrical stimulation, employing a single pair of active electrodes. 2. The method allows the selective activation of 95% of small myelinated (delta) axons, without activation of the larger (beta) ones; and activation of unmyelinated (C) fibres, without A fibre activation. Asynchronous firing of myelinated axons was absent in the majority of the experiments. 3. The method employs triangularly shaped electrical pulses, with a steep rise front and a slow exponential decay. The outward flow of current at the cathode fires conducted impulses in both larger and smaller axons, and the inward flow inactivates differentially the conduction in the smaller ones. 4. The differential effect of anodal currents rests upon the greater internal conductance and greater conduction velocity of larger fibres. 5. The method has the advantage over the conventional polarization block of simpler surgical preparation, longer nerve survival and minimal latency distortion. However, it cannot be applied in experiments requiring physiological stimulation of peripheral receptors.

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials
  • Animals
  • Axons / physiology
  • Cats
  • Electric Stimulation / methods*
  • Evoked Potentials
  • Nerve Block
  • Nerve Fibers / physiology
  • Nerve Fibers, Myelinated / physiology
  • Neural Conduction
  • Peripheral Nerves / physiology*
  • Reflex