Talk:Neuronal cable theory
This is a nice article and I congratulate the author for undertaking this project. Although I feel that the content of this article is accurate and complete, it may be too difficult to be understood by a motivated undergraduate wanting to learn about quantitative properties of neurons. I think the article could be easily revised in away that would make it easier for someone with no background in quantitative models of neurons to understand what cable theory is all about and why it is important. Here are my suggestions:
1) Simplify the section on the electrical properties of membranes. Although the electrical properties of membranes is a critical component for understanding the electrical behavior of neurons, cable theory is really a separate topic that could be more succinctly addressed without going into the Nernst and the GHK equations. Although the author does a nice job discussing these concepts, they would be better placed in a separate article. The only membrane properties that need be addressed in this article are conductance (Gm) and capacitance (Cm). The references to individual Na and K conductances are not needed for a clear understanding of cable theory. Together with axial conductance, only three parameters are needed in this article.
Excellent suggestion! As suggested, this was removed from this article and moved into 'Electrical properties of cell membranes'.
2) I think the Motivation section could more plainly state why cable theory is important. Namely, that electrical signals are "attenuated" and "filtered" by the cable properties of the thin processes of neurons (I feel an undergraduate biology student would have some intuitive notion of what these two terms mean). I also strongly recommend including a figure in this section that illustrates these properties. This would really "hit home" why it is so important to understand what cable theory is all about (Figure 6.5 Panel B in Dyan & Abbott's Theoretical Neuroscience text is an excellent example). However, just a simple simulation result of a linear cable to a brief current injection would make the point.
A paragraph was added stating that electrical signals are attenuated and filtered by the cable properties.
Figure 1 was added.
3) A short section is needed that emphasizes what is the most important implication of cable theory for the study of neurons. Namely, because of a neurons cable properties, distal synapses and dendrites are "out of reach" of traditional electrophysiological studies using electrodes at the soma. The reason we know so little about how neurons integrate their distal synaptic input, is that we have no way a measuring, or controlling, distal parts of the cell.
A paragraph saying this pretty much verbatim was added (towards the end of the Motivation section)
Again, I thank the author for his efforts and I hope these comments are useful.
Yes, these comments were very useful, and I would like to thank the referee for them.