Experimenting in NIA

  • Neurons in Action provides realistic, interactive simulations, not previously prepared animations. This set of simulations also introduces the student or investigator to the power of the professional simulation tool, NEURON. A student can easily advance beyond the NIA tutorials to using NEURON as a research tool.
  • If a picture is worth a thousand words, a movie may be worth orders of magnitude more. The movies in NIA free one's brain from trying to imagine or "hand wave" the interactions of voltage and current patterns in cells of complex geometry.
  • The ability to change parameters in NIA provides the student with the opportunity for explorations of important neurophysiological problems in far greater depth than is typically offered in conventional textbooks.
The student can experiment with:
  • equilibrium potentials and the resting potential
  • Na, Ca, and hybrid action potentials
  • single channels
  • passive voltage spread in an axon
  • propagation of action potentials in unmyelinated, myelinated, and partially demyelinated axons
  • voltage clamping of patches and intact cells
  • the influence of channel kinetics on excitation
  • excitatory and inhibitory synaptic potentials
  • integration of synaptic inputs on dendrites and spike initiation in intact cells
  • action potential invasion of a presynaptic terminal arbor
  • improved coincidence detection in a CNS neurons due to insertion of specialized channels
Parameters under the student's control, depending on the tutorial, include:
  • The neuron's geometry
  • Na, K, and Ca channel density
  • number of myelin wraps
  • synaptic parameters (amplitude, reversal potential, timing, location on dendrite)
  • ionic environment
  • temperature