The Next Layer of Complexity: Ion Channel Receptors

Throughout this residency I have been looking at neuronal pathways and message transmission through our bodies.  Designated synaptic clefts allow these transmissions to pass from one dendrite to the next and this is known as the action potential process – I have posted a number of images and  descriptions of this process, according to my understanding of it. However, unsurprisingly, I now find there is more to these complex neurological interactions – also involved are electronic components known as ion channels:

From 1939 to 1952, Alan Hodgkin and Andrew Huxley published a series of seminal papers that successfully described how the flux of ions across membranes is responsible for the generation of the action potential: an action potential is the transient, rapid rise and fall of the membrane voltage ( Rasband, M. N. (2010) Ion Channels and Excitable Cells. Nature Education 3(9):41)

Scientific diagram of ion channel transmission
2006 Nature Publishing Group Zagotta, W. N. Membrane biology: Permutations of permeability. Nature 440, 427-429 (2006).

Neurons are one of a group of what are known as ‘excitable cells’ –  cells with the unique capacity to  create electrical signals through the use of ion channels a chemical and/or electrical process known as firing.

Dottori laboratory

It is far beyond my capacity as an artist to describe correctly these important processes from our neurological system so I recommend the following website for those who want more in-depth science:

My issue here is to observe and internalise as much as possible, with the aim of recontextualising the data – mediated through my art – to create art/science viewer interactive installations. My next step will be to observe the ‘firing’ of neurons via electrophysiology.



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