Multiple spike-initiation zones in single neurons revealed by voltage-sensitive dyes

Nature. 1996 May 23;381(6580):322-5. doi: 10.1038/381322a0.


The primary function of the nerve cell is to process electrical signals. Over the past fifteen years there has been renewed interest in the detailed spatial analysis of signalling in individual neurons owing to experimental evidence that the regional electrical properties of neurons are complex. Thus the behaviour of many nerve cells cannot be understood on the basis of microelectrode measurements from the soma. Regional electrical properties of neurons have been studied using sharp microelectrode and patch-electrode recordings from neuronal processes, high-resolution multisite optical recordings of Ca2+ concentration changes and by using models to predict the distribution of membrane potential in the entire neuronal arborization. Additional direct evidence about electrical signalling in neuronal processes in situ can now be obtained by recording membrane potential changes using voltage-sensitive dyes. Here I demonstrate the existence of multiple action potential trigger zones in separate regions of the neuronal arborization of an identified molluscan neuron.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Axons / physiology
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Fluorescent Dyes*
  • Helix, Snails
  • Microelectrodes
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Styrenes*


  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • JPW 1114
  • Styrenes