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J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 40:769-774 doi:10.1136/jnnp.40.8.769
  • Research Article

Conduction velocity and spike configuration in myelinated fibres: computed dependence on internode distance.

Abstract

It has been argued theoretically and confirmed experimentally that conduction velocity (theta) should be proportional to nerve fibre diameter for myelinated fibre tracts, such as normal peripheral nerve, exhibiting 'structural' similarity'. In some axons, however, the nodes of Ranvier are more closely spaced than in normal peripheral nerve. Analytic arguments have suggested that when internodal distance (L) alone is changed, the plot of theta versus L should have a relatively flat maximum. This was confirmed by several previous computer simulations of myelinated axons, but internode lengths of less than half the normal case were not examined. In order to gain insight into impulse propagation in myelinated and remyelinated fibres with short internodal lengths, the present study examines the conduction velocity and spike configuration for a wide range of internodal lengths. As L becomes large, theta falls and finally propagation is blocked; as L becomes small, theta decreases more and more steeply. From this, it is predicted that for fibres with very short internodal lengths, small local changes in L should affect substantially the conduction velocity.