Giant nerve fibres, Biology

Giant Nerve Fibres

We now know that giant nerve fibres take place in the central nervous system of many polychaetes, oligochaetes, insects cephalopod etc. They are broader and longer as compared to the other, ordinary nerve fibres which are about 2 μm or so only in diameter. In the squid, they might attain a diameter of 700 μm or even more. Their size makes them ideal material for electrophysiological studies, like recording electrodes can be inserted inside the axons and action potentials measured. They are of immense benefit to the animal because, with the increase in diameter of the axon, resistance for propagation of action potential is decreased, while velocity of propagation is increased. They conduct for longer distances with fewer or no synapses that also further facilitate conduction. On the whole they are pre-eminently suited for rapid conduction. These Fibres are included in escape reactions of the animal. The squid for instance is rapidly propelled in water by expelling the water within the mantle cavity by fast and simultaneous contraction of the muscles of the mantle innervated by the giant fibres by using the principle of jet propulsion. The animal can escape from its enemies through this method within a fraction of a second.

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