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Dr. I. C. Bruce November 7, 2010 Continued on page 2


ECE 795: Quantitative Electrophysiology
Midterm Exam 2008
Due date: Exam answers to be submitted via e-mail to Dr. Bruce before 9:30am on Monday,
November 24
th
.
The rules: A. Each student must work on their own answers. If you get stuck, please see Dr. Bruce.
B. It is permissible to refer to books and articles beyond those included on the course
reference list, but if you do, please provide reference details.
1. The capacitance per unit area and conductance per unit area of a neural membrane can be estimated
by measuring the capacitance and conductance for the entire neuron and dividing by the apparent
surface area of unmyelinated membrane. Discuss the difficulties and complications in applying
this technique to skeletal muscle fibers. Factors to consider are: i) the specialized structure of the
muscle fiber membrane and ii) the effects of sarcomere length changes. (25 pts)
2. Consider the three forms of the Nernst Planck Equation given in Lecture #1:
p p
p p p
p p
p p p p
p
p p p p p
p
Z C F
j D C
RT
Z C F
J D FZ C
RT
Z
J u RT C Z C F
Z
| |
V + Vu
|
\ .
| |
= V + Vu
|
\ .
| |
| = V + Vu

=
|
\ .

a) State what unit each of the variables in these three equations should have according to:
i. the cgs unit system, and
ii. the SI unit system,
and
b) show that these two sets of units are self consistent in the three forms of the NPE. (25 pts)
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Dr. I. C. Bruce November 7, 2010 Continued on page 3
3. The subthreshold behaviour of a neural soma can be described by the circuit diagram shown below.
R =
70 M
C =
50 pF
inside
outside
V
rest
=
60 mV
g
I
(t)
E
I
=
55 mV

The neuron has a threshold potential of
th
35 mV V = . Synaptic input onto this soma consists of
one inhibitory synapse that produces the current:
( )| |
I I I
.
m
I g t V E =
Consider the case where the membrane is at rest (i.e.,
rest m
V V = ) and the inhibitory conductance
I
0 nS g = for time 0 t < . At time 0 t = , a step current of
inj
0.5 nA I = is injected into the interior
of the soma. Assume that the inhibitory synaptic conductance
I
g steps instantaneously at time
2 ms t = to a new value in response to neurotransmitter binding and remains at that value until at
least 8 ms t = .
What is the minimum value to which the inhibitory conductance
I
g can step at time 2 ms t = in
order to stop the membrane potential
m
V from reaching the threshold potential
th
V by time 8 ms t = ?
(25 pts)
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Dr. I. C. Bruce November 7, 2010
4. An action potential with the spatial waveform illustrated below is propagating along a fiber.
0 1 2 3 4 5
0
20
40
60
80
100
x (cm)
v
m

(
m
V
)

The relative transmembrane potential can be described by:
2
2
300 e , for 0,
0, for 0,
x
m
x x
v
x

>
=

<


where x is in units of cm and
m
v is in units of mV.
The fiber has a radius of 2 m a = and an axoplasmic conductivity of 0.02 S/cm
i
o = .
a) Find expressions describing two dipole source density regions generated by the action potential.
State the boundaries of the two regions and sketch the source density amplitude as a function of
x .
b) Find expressions describing three monopole source density regions generated by the action
potential. State the boundaries of the three regions and sketch the source density amplitude as a
function of x .
c) Find the strengths of two lumped dipole sources based on the dipole source densities from part
a. above.
d) Find the strengths of three lumped monopole sources based on the monopole source densities
from part b. above. (25 pts)
THE END