Hodgkin & Huxley in Plymouth



Neuroscience at Plymouth has an illustrious history. The first recording of an action potential using a microelectrode inserted into an axon was done by Alan Lloyd Hodgkin and Andrew Fielding Huxley in Plymouth in 1939. The story is recounted in these papers by Huxley and Hodgkin.

From Wikipedia:

Alan Lloyd Hodgkin and Andrew Fielding Huxley worked on experimental measurements and developed an action potential theory representing one of the earliest applications of a technique of electrophysiology, known as the "voltage clamp". The second critical element of their research was the use of the giant axon of Atlantic squid (Loligo vulgaris), which enabled them to record ionic currents as they would not have been able to do in almost any other neuron, such cells being too small to study using the techniques of the time. The experiments started at the University of Cambridge, beginning in 1935 with frog sciatic nerve, and soon after they continued their work using squid giant axons at the Marine Biological Association Laboratory in Plymouth. In 1939, reporting work done in Plymouth, Alan Hodgkin and Andrew Huxley published a short paper in the journal Nature announcing their achievement of recording action potentials from inside a nerve fibre. Research was interrupted by World War II but after resuming their experimental work in Plymouth, the pair published their theory in 1952.

In 1963, Hodgkin and Huxley won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their work on the basis of nerve "action potentials", the electrical impulses which enable the activity of an organism to be coordinated by a central nervous system. Hodgkin and Huxley shared the prize that year with John Carew Eccles, who was cited for his research on synapses. Hodgkin and Huxley's findings led them to hypothesize ion channels, which were confirmed only decades later. Confirmation of ion channels came with the development of the patch clamp leading to a Nobel prize in 1991 for Erwin Neher and Bert Sakmann.



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