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Electrophysiological analysis of transmission at the skeletal neuromuscular junction

Prior, C and Dempster, J and Marshall, I G (1993) Electrophysiological analysis of transmission at the skeletal neuromuscular junction. Journal of Pharmacological and Toxicological Methods, 30 (1). pp. 1-17. ISSN 1056-8719

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The review is divided into two sections. The first deals with methods and problems associated with performing electrophysiological experimentation on the skeletal muscle neuromuscular junction. The second section concentrates on the computer analysis of electrophysiological data. In the first section, the various techniques available for producing skeletal muscle paralysis are described. These include the use of pharmacological manipulations, such as an excess of magnesium ions or a competitive postjunctional nicotinic acetylcholine antagonist, physiological manipulations, such as cutting the muscle fibers, and the muscle fiber sodium channel toxin, mu-conotoxin. Also, in this section, a comparison is made of the use of voltage- and current-recording techniques, including descriptions of, and solutions to, the problems associated with membrane capacitance, nonlinear summation, membrane space constant, and electrical and mechanical interference. In the second section, details are given of the types of computer system commonly used for the analysis of electrophysiological data and also the requirements of the data analysis software. The use of computer algorithms for signal detection, signal evaluation, signal averaging, and curve fitting are qualitatively described, along with some of the problems and pitfalls often associated with these methods.