The Five 1952 Hodgkin and Huxley Papers

Alan Hodgkin and Andrew Huxley published a series of five papers in the Journal of Physiology that explained the nerve action potential. In Intermediate Physics for Medicine and Biology, Russ Hobbie and I cite only the last one, which contains their mathematical model and is the most famous. Today, I’ll analyze all five papers. We’d better get started, because we have much to discuss.

Hodgkin AL, Huxley AF & Katz B (1952) “Measurement of Current‐Voltage Relations in the Membrane of the Giant Axon of Loligo.” J. Physiol., Volume 116, Pages 424–448.

The membrane current at a constant depolarized membrane voltage during a voltage clamp experiment. Adapted from Fig. 11 of Hodgkin et al. (1952).

Hodgkin AL & Huxley AF (1952) “Currents Carried by Sodium and Potassium Ions Through the Membrane of the Giant Axon of Loligo.” J. Physiol., Volume 116, Pages 449–472.

The membrane current at a constant depolarized membrane voltage, when the axon is immersed in normal seawater (“sodium”) and in an artificial seawater with sodium replaced by choline (“choline”). Adapted from Fig. 1 of Hodgkin & Huxley (1952).

Hodgkin AL & Huxley AF (1952) “The Components of Membrane Conductance in the Giant Axon of Loligo.” J. Physiol., Volume 116, Pages 473–496.

The membrane current (blue) and conductance (green) during a brief voltage clamp experiment. Adapted from Fig. 8c of Hodgkin & Huxley (1952).

Hodgkin AL & Huxley AF (1952) “The Dual Effect of Membrane Potential on Sodium Conductance in the Giant Axon of Loligo.” J. Physiol., Volume 116, Pages 497–506.

The membrane voltage (red) and current (blue) during a two-step voltage clamp protocol. Adapted from Fig. 4 of Hodgkin & Huxley (1952).

Hodgkin AL & Huxley AF (1952) “A Quantitative Description of Membrane Current and its Application to Conduction and Excitation in Nerve.” J. Physiol., Volume 117, Pages 500–544.

The calculated (top) and measured (bottom) action potential. Adapted from Fig. 12 of Hodgkin & Huxley (1952).

Wow! That’s an amazing set of papers.

Originally published at http://hobbieroth.blogspot.com.

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Professor of Physics at Oakland University and coauthor of the textbook Intermediate Physics for Medicine and Biology.

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Brad Roth

Professor of Physics at Oakland University and coauthor of the textbook Intermediate Physics for Medicine and Biology.