Preface to the Fourth Edition

The fourth edition of Cellular Physiology of Nerve and Muscle incorporates new material in several areas. An opening chapter has been added to introduce the basic characteristics of electrical signaling in the nervous system and to set the stage for the detailed topics covered in Part I. The coverage of synaptic transmission has been expanded to include synaptic plasticity, a topic requested by students and instructors alike. A new appendix has been included that covers the basic electrical properties of cells in greater detail for those who want a more quantitative treatment of this material.

Perhaps the most salient change is the artwork, with many new figures in this edition. As in previous editions, the goal of each figure is to clarify a single point of discussion, but I hope the new illustrations will also be more visually striking, while retaining their teaching purpose.

Students should also note that animations are available for selected figures, as indicated in the figure captions. The animations are available at by following the link for my general neurobiology text: Neurobiology: Molecules, Cells, and Systems.

Despite the numerous improvements in the fourth edition, the underlying core of the book remains the same: a step-by-step presentation of the physical and chemical principles necessary to understand electrical signaling in cells. This material is necessarily quantitative. However, I am confident that the approach taken here will allow students to arrive at a sophisticated understanding of how cells generate electrical signals and use them to communicate.

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