Working at the Australian National University, Canberra (1951-66), Eccles showed that the excitement of a nerve cell by an impulse causes one kind of synapse to release into the neighbouring cell a substance (probably acetylcholine) that expands the pores in nerve membranes. The expanded pores then allow free passage of sodium ions into the neighbouring nerve cell and reverse the polarity of electric charge. This wave of electric charge, which constitutes the nerve impulse, is conducted from one cell to another. In the same way he found that an excited nerve cell induces another type of synapse to release into the neighbouring cell a substance that promotes outward passage of positively charged potassium ions across the membrane, reinforcing the existing polarity and inhibiting the transmission of an impulse. (See also action potential.)
Eccles' work, based largely on the findings of Hodgkin and Huxley, had a profound influence on the medical treatment of nervous diseases and research on kidney, heart, and brain function.
Among his books are Reflex Activity of the Spinal Cord (1932), The
Physiology of Nerve Cells (1957), The Inhibitory Pathways of the Central
Nervous System (1969), The Understanding of the Brain (1973), and The
Human Psyche (1980).
Main Page | About Us | All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License. Timeline of Nobel Prize Winners is not affiliated with The Nobel Foundation. External sites are not endorsed or supported by http://www.nobel-winners.com/ Copyright © 2003 All Rights Reserved.