Bauhaus-Universität Weimar

The all-or-nothing response of sensory nerve fibres
Adrian, E. D. Alexander Forbes
strength required for a minimal response remains constant or rises, and 
that required for a maximal response falls. These changes are readily 
Fig. 8 
Strength for Maximal Response Q 
» A.> Minimal „ |- 
Fig 9 
10 - I 
Fig. 10 
Duration of Narcosis (minutes) 
Fig. 8. Arrangement of electrodes, etc. 
Fig. 9. Strength of stimulus needed for maximal and minimal 
electric response during final stage of narcosis. 
Fig. 10. As Fig. 9. 
explained by the early failure of some of the fibres, which may happen 
to be either the most excitable or the least excitable in the nerve. But 
the important point concerns the strength of stimulus which is effective 
just before the complete failure of conduction. In Fig. 9 this is no greater 
than the original threshold value. Thus the stimulus which remains 
effective until complete failure is one which was originally only just 
strong enough to produce any effect at all, so that the impulse which 
it sets up can withstand just as great a decrement as the impulse set 
up by a stimulus many times as strong. This can only mean that the size 
of the impulse does not depend at all on the strength of the stimulus. 
In Fig. 10 the final strength is greater than the original threshold value, 
but smaller than that originally required to give a maximal response. 
If we assume an all-or-nothing relation between stimulus and impulse 
in each fibre the result is very easily explained, for it means no more 
than the failure of the most excitable and the least excitable fibres before 
those of intermediate excitability. If we suppose that the size of the


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