What is the optimal distribution of myelin along a single axon?
AuthorWalsh, DM; Landman, KA; Hughes, BD
Source TitleNeuroscience Letters
AffiliationSchool of Mathematics and Statistics
Document TypeJournal Article
CitationsWalsh, D. M., Landman, K. A. & Hughes, B. D. (2017). What is the optimal distribution of myelin along a single axon?. Neuroscience Letters, 658, pp.97-101. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neulet.2017.08.037.
Access StatusOpen Access
ARC Grant codeARC/DP140100339
The myelin sheath that insulates some axons in the central nervous system allows for faster signal conduction. Previously, axons were thought to be either unmyelinated or fully myelinated. Recent experimental work has discovered a new pattern of myelination (intermittent myelination) along axons in the mouse brain, in which long unmyelinated axon segments are followed by myelinated segments of comparable length. We use a computational model to explore how myelin distribution (in particular intermittent myelination) affects conduction velocity. We find that although fully myelinated axons minimize conduction velocity, varying the spatial distribution of a fixed amount of myelin along a partially myelinated axon leads to considerable variation in the conduction velocity for action potentials. Whether sodium ion channel number or sodium ion channel density is held constant as the area of the unmyelinated segments increases has a strong influence on the optimal pattern of myelin and the conduction velocity.
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