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ddl's picture

Backward and Forward Action Potentials

I too was very interested in the idea of an action potential possibly being able to evade the nervous systems preventative mechanisms, such as ion channel desensitization, and unintentionally propagate in more than one direction.  As discussed by Brie, I think this is a very probable explanation for certain nervous system disorders or conditions which are associated with neuronal ‘misfiring’.  What if we could explain some ailments by the fact that an inadvertent, backwards propagating signal is colliding with an intended, forward propagating signal in situations where desensitization of things like sodium channels did not effectively prevent the transmission of this action potential in the reverse direction?  In the event that this does occur, what would be the effect of two oppositely oriented action potentials moving into one another?  Would these two effects compound one another and create an isolated, overly robust signal at a given point in the transmission pathway?  Or would the two cancel one another out, thus preventing the intended transmission of the nervous signal which would lead to the inability to generate muscular movement?  If the latter is the case, are there documented incidences where conditions like paralysis have been caused by the inability of the nervous system to consistently prevent backwards action potentials from being generated and not the severing of the various pathways which compose the nervous system? 

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