The impact of anomalous diffusion on action potentials in myelinated neurons

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Action potentials in myelinated neurons happen only at specialized locations of the axons known as the nodes of Ranvier. The shapes, timings, and propagation speeds of these action potentials are controlled by biochemical interactions among neurons, glial cells, and the extracellular space. The complexity of brain structure and processes suggests that anomalous diffusion could affect the propagation of action potentials. In this paper, a spatio-temporal fractional cable equation for action potentials propagation in myelinated neurons is proposed. The impact of the ionic anomalous diffusion on the distribution of the membrane potential is investigated using numerical simulations. The results show spatially narrower action potentials at the nodes of Ranvier when using spatial derivatives of the fractional order only and delayed or lack of action potentials when adding a temporal derivative of the fractional order. These findings could reveal the pathological patterns of brain diseases such as epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and Alzheimer’s disease, which have become more prevalent in the latest years.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number4
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
JournalFractal and Fractional
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Analysis
  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Statistics and Probability


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