I learned that electrical signal flowing out through the membrane significantly deters the voltage to move down the axon. This seems like a "bad" thing, in that it reduces the efficiency of neurons to pass information.

First of all, is this understanding correct?

Second, are there are chemicals that improve this process, either produced internally or externally?


1 Answer 1


Yes, current leaking out of the axon can be "bad": in saltatory conduction, enough signal needs to reach the next node of Ranvier for the action potential to be regenerated. Note, however, that as long as enough current reaches the next node of Ranvier, everything is great.

In a way, this current leak is "bad" if it's severe enough. Beyond that, however, it is actually having a high membrane resistance that is "bad". First of all, passive conduction, as it happens in dendrites, is part of the natural way of the brain to perform computations. Second, in axons, a higher membrane resistance actually decreases the nerve conduction velocity (CV), making your brain "work slower".

There isn't really a reason to increase the membrane resistance of axons past a certain point, and our bodies naturally do this already: cells called either oligodendrocytes (in the CNS) or Schwann cells (in the PNS) increase membrane resistance by wrapping around the axons.


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