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Monday, June 11, 2007

A Shocking Idea

Most people know that nerves work by passing electrical currents from cell to cell. But you might be surprised to learn that no one knows exactly how anesthetics stop nerves from carrying pain signals.

That's why two scientists believe that we really don’t know how nerves work after all.

According to their controversial theory, electricity is just a side effect of how nerves really operate: by conducting high-density waves of pressure that resemble sound reverberating through a pipe.

"Nerves are supposed to work like a series of electrical transistors," said Andrew Jackson, a physicist at the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen, Denmark. "This picture is at best flawed."

If correct, Jackson and Thomas Heimburg, a Niels Bohr biophysicist and co-author of a recent paper describing their theory, would turn a long-held (and Nobel Prize-winning) theory on its head.

Alan Hodgkin and Andrew Huxley won the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine in 1963 for describing the electric transmission of impulses along nerves -- a now widely accepted theory known as the Hodgkin-Huxley model.
More at:http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/news/2007/06/nerve_communication

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