Medical students:

Here we highlight aspects of NIA2 that might engage medical students. When time is limited for presenting basic neuronal properties, minimovies of basic neuronal properties may be imported into the presentation.

Alternatively, the interactive simulations themselves may be used effectively in lecture, focusing on translational topics as described here. Running simulations during the lecture is relatively easy, since toggling between PowerPoint slides and a simulation is straightforward. Asking "What do you expect if I change this parameter?" can command student attention and lead more quickly to understanding.


We have made 19 minimovies for importing into a PowerPoint presentation on either Windows or OSX. Action potential minimovies demonstrate topics ranging from increasing the stimulus amplitude to the effect of cooling. Each voltage trace is also converted to frequency for an accompanying sound track to make the movies more engaging.

Movies of passive and active voltages, moving along unmyelinated or myelinated axons or intact cells, give the student a clear conception of propagation and how it is affected by changes in axon diameter. Additional movies show central features of excitatory and inhibitory synapses.

Translational topics

In the Myelinated Axon tutorial, the number of wraps of myelin can be specified and the effect on conduction velocity observed.

The Partial Demyelination tutorial shows how impulses fail to invade a demyelinated region of axon; the user can rescue invasion by experimenting with parameters. See Sample Tutorials for the text and selected screen shots from this tutorial

In The Ca Action Potential tutorial, the user changes the Na and L-type Ca conductances to control the amplitude and duration of a cardiac-like action potential.

Several tutorials focus on excitability: the Extracellular Ca Sensitivity of the Na Channel simulations explore how changes in serum [Ca] can lead to clinical symptoms; the Na and K Channel Kinetics simulations reveal why overexpression of particular Na channel subtypes can lead to neuropathic pain, and how certain toxins, such as the Florida red tide toxin, can kill by altering the kinetics of a channel, rather than blocking it like the New England red tide.

In The Na Action Potential tutorial you can compare the action of drugs that block one channel type with that of anesthetics that block more than one.

In Threshold: To Fire or Not to Fire, you can demonstrate why anticholinesterases are effective in treating myasthenia gravis.