Perturbation analysis of spontaneous action potential initiation by stochastic ion channels

James P. Keener, Jay M. Newby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


A stochastic interpretation of spontaneous action potential initiation is developed for the Morris-Lecar equations. Initiation of a spontaneous action potential can be interpreted as the escape from one of the wells of a double well potential, and we develop an asymptotic approximation of the mean exit time using a recently developed quasistationary perturbation method. Using the fact that the activating ionic channel's random openings and closings are fast relative to other processes, we derive an accurate estimate for the mean time to fire an action potential (MFT), which is valid for a below-threshold applied current. Previous studies have found that for above-threshold applied current, where there is only a single stable fixed point, a diffusion approximation can be used. We also explore why different diffusion approximation techniques fail to estimate the MFT. © 2011 American Physical Society.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPhysical Review E
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 25 2011
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledged KAUST grant number(s): KUK-C1-013-4
Acknowledgements: This publication was based on work supported in part by the National Science Foundation (DMS-0718036) and by Award No KUK-C1-013-4 made by King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST).
This publication acknowledges KAUST support, but has no KAUST affiliated authors.


Dive into the research topics of 'Perturbation analysis of spontaneous action potential initiation by stochastic ion channels'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this