Hodgkin-Huxley Action Potential Model

The voltage across membranes of excitable cells (e.g. nervous system, muscles, heart, endocrine system) transiently changes, creating a pulse-like wave called an "action potential". The action potential serves as a major signal for the initiation of many cellular and intercellular processes. The canonical mathematical-physical model of the phenomenon was presented by Alan Hodgkin and Andrew Huxley in 1952 in a series of seminal papers [2], where membrane potenial dynamics is described in terms of voltage-dependent ionic conductance, dominated by four coupled ordinary differential equations. In the Demonstration presented here, the action potential is trigerred by a short current stimulus. Shown are time evolutions of membrane voltage (blue trace) and conductance gates (, , and ).


  • [Snapshot]
  • [Snapshot]
  • [Snapshot]


Units: , , , and .
Rate functions:
Maximal conductances are , , and for sodium, potassium, and leak, respectively. Nernst equilibrium potentials are , , and for sodium, potassium, and leak, respectively. Membrane capacitance is set to 1.
[1] B. Hille, Ion Channels of Excitable Membranes, Sunderland, MA: Sinauer, 2001.
[2] A. L. Hodgkin and A. F. Huxley, "A Quantitative Description of Membrane Current and Its Application to Conduction and Excitation in Nerve," Journal of Physiology, 117, 1952 pp. 500–544.
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