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PII S0361-9230(99)00161-6 Lapicque's introduction of the

Summary: PII S0361-9230(99)00161-6
Lapicque's introduction of the
integrate-and-fire model neuron (1907)
L. F. Abbott*
Volen Center and Department of Biology, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA, USA
[Received 21 May 1999; Accepted 21 May 1999]
In 1907, long before the mechanisms responsible for the genera-
tion of neuronal action potentials were known, Lapicque devel-
oped a neuron model that is still widely used today [3,7]. This
remarkable achievement stresses that, in neural modeling, studies
of function do not necessarily require an understanding of mech-
anism. Significant progress is possible if a phenomenon is ade-
quately described, even if its biophysical basis cannot be modeled.
Lapicque modeled the neuron using an electric circuit consist-
ing of a parallel capacitor and resistor (Fig. 1A). These represent
the capacitance and leakage resistance of the cell membrane. Of
course, such a simple circuit cannot generate action potentials, but
Lapicque postulated that when the membrane capacitor was
charged to certain threshold potential, an action potential would be
generated and the capacitor would discharge, resetting the mem-


Source: Abbott, Laurence - Center for Neurobiology and Behavior & Department of Physiology and Cellular Biophysics, Columbia University


Collections: Biology and Medicine