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Segmented and "equivalent" representation of the cable equation.

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Abstract

The linear cable theory has been applied to a modular structure consisting of n repeating units each composed of two subunits with different values of resistance and capacitance. For n going to infinity, i.e., for infinite cables, we have derived analytically the Laplace transform of the solution by making use of a difference method and we have inverted it by means of a numerical procedure. The results have been compared with those obtained by the direct application of the cable equation to a simplified nonmodular model with "equivalent" electrical parameters. The implication of our work in the analysis of the time and space course of the potential of real fibers has been discussed. In particular, we have shown that the simplified ("equivalent") model is a very good representation of the segmented model for the nodal regions of myelinated fibers in a steady situation and in every condition for muscle fibers. An approximate solution for the steady potential of myelinated fibers has been derived for both nodal and internodal regions. The applications of our work to other cases dealing with repeating structures, such as earthworm giant fibers, have been discussed and our results have been compared with other attempts to solve similar problems.

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