Classification and Properties of Nerve Fiber, Electrophysiology and Action Potential : Pharmaceutical Guidelines -->

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Classification and Properties of Nerve Fiber, Electrophysiology and Action Potential

In the skin, muscles, and internal organs, nerve fibers transmit signals between nerves and receptors in a thread-like manner.

Nerve Fibers

In the skin, muscles, and internal organs, nerve fibers transmit signals between nerves and receptors in a thread-like manner. Nerve impulses are what conduct signals from the nerves to the body, or in other words, delivering nerve signals from the nerves to the body. There are three major types of fibers based on their primary purpose. Muscle and tendon movement is classified under Class A; involuntary processes are classified under Class B, such as digestion and lung movement; and temperature and pain are classified under Class C. Transmission speeds can vary between classes, and there can be slight variations in fiber length and thickness based on location and purpose. Fibers tend to work in much the same way, though, and they all serve a similar purpose.

From muscle movement to sensations such as pain and warmth, the nervous system controls everything in our body. Fibres are involved in both of the primary systems. In contrast to the central nervous system, the peripheral nervous system refers to a network of signals that extends throughout the entire body, from fingertips to toes and everywhere in between. Both systems contain nerves that are deep inside the body, however, and are located well beneath the skin. Fibers are what transmit messages from the nerves into the brain to be translated, interpreted, and implemented, since they transport messages from the nerves to the transmission site.

Class A

In what is known as "Class A" fibers, which are usually the biggest grouping, signals related to muscle, tendon, and articular movement travel. In addition to being the thickest, they are also one-fifth of the diameter of a human hair strand. Therefore, their transmission times are usually pretty quick. The vast majority of Class A nerve fibers are myelinated, meaning that their myelin sheaths are similar to that of nerves. The sheath enables signals to move faster because they "hop" along the fiber surface rather than travel straight through it. A-alpha fibers, A-beta fibers, A-gamma fibers, and A-delta fibers are just a few of the many muscular functions that the nervous system influences.

Alpha waves transfer information at a speed of about 299 to 394 feet per second (about 70 to 120 meters per second), and are usually associated with muscle contractions. Touch and muscle movement are transmitted by class A-gamma nerve fibers at a speed between 49 and 131 feet (about 15 to 40 meters) per second, while touch and pressure are transmitted by class A-beta fibers between 15 and 40 meters per second. At distances between 16 and 49 feet (5 to 15 meters), Class A-delta fibers carry pain, touch, pressure, and temperature signals.

Class B

A Class B fiber carries messages to and from the central nervous system via ganglia, a bundle of cells that functions as a relay system. Digestive, breathing, and bodily functions like perspiration and pupil dilation are basic functions. People do these things without being conscious of them, but they depend on them for good health. They consist almost exclusively of myelinated fibers, which are typically thinner than Class A fibers. This means they are a bit slower than Class A fibers in terms of actual transmission speed.

Class C

Signals about physical sensations such as pain and temperature are carried by fibers of the C class. The nerve cells are usually unmyelinated and quite thin. The advantages of this are that the signals can reach all parts of the body equally, but it also means that these signals are among the slowest. These fibers move at a speed of about 7 inches (17.78 cm) per second.


Electrical properties of biological tissues and cells constitute the topic of electrophysiology. Neurological and cardiac problems can be diagnosed with some of the tests. Electrical activity of cells, tissues, and whole specimens can be quantified by probes, which are commonly used in research. In addition to providing information about ion transport mechanisms, measuring the activity of cells at diverse membrane potentials can also provide details about cell communication. Using different ionic strengths and membrane potentials on cell populations, you can study the contractility of muscles and diseases that disrupt normal impulse propagation. With the right combination of stimulation techniques and quality equipment, electrophysiological studies have a number of applications.

The electrical properties of neural and muscle tissue are studied by researchers and clinicians using electrophysiology. Electroencephalograms (EEGs) are used in clinical laboratories to detect brain disorders such as epilepsy, brain tumors, strokes, encephalitis, etc. The neuroscientists use electrophysiology methods to quantify the activity of ion channels in cell membranes in different electrical environments.

Action Potential

The resting membrane potential changes suddenly, quickly, transitorily, and propagative when an action potential occurs. An action potential can be generated only by neurons and muscle cells, a property known as excitability. Nerve signals originate from action potentials. The neurons generate and conduct these signals along their processes in order to transmit these signals to the target tissues. A stimulus will either activate them in some way, inhibit them, or modulate them.


An electrical stimulus with the value of mV is the cause of this phenomenon. Every stimulus is not capable of causing an action potential. A stimulus that induces an action potential must have an electrical value that reduces nerve cell negativity to the threshold. The three types of stimuli are subthreshold, threshold, and suprathreshold. An action potential cannot be induced by subthreshold stimuli. When a stimulus reaches its threshold, it is powerful enough to generate a nerve impulse (action potential). Surplus stimulation is also associated with action potentials, but their intensity is higher than threshold stimulation.
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Ankur Choudhary is India's first professional pharmaceutical blogger, author and founder of Pharmaceutical Guidelines, a widely-read pharmaceutical blog since 2008. Sign-up for the free email updates for your daily dose of pharmaceutical tips.
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