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Home Courses nanoHUB-U: Introduction to Bioelectricity (2015) Overview


nanoHUB-U: Introduction to Bioelectricity (2015)

This course will use fundamental engineering and mathematical tools to understand and analyze basic bioelectricity and circuit theory in the context of the mammalian nervous system.


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Scientific Overview Video

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Course Description:

This course is for students who are interested in learning about relating the systems of the human body that involve or communicate with bioelectrical systems, including the heart, brain, muscles, and the neuromuscular system that connects them all together. The objective of this course is to establish a background and to dig deeper into some of the applications of bioelectricity to medicine. Students will learn about how bioelectricity can be used to record and control the way the body electric behaves.


The prerequisites of this course are freshmen physics to understand the basics of circuits, resistors and capacitors, and differential equations to follow along with the mathematics and the derivations of the core conductor cable and the Hodgkin-Huxley equations.

Recommended Reading:

Neuroscience, Dale Perves, et al

Course Outline:


Unit 1: Introduction to the Nervous System

  • L1.1: Basic Organization of CNS & PNS
  • L1.2: Simple Neural Circuits (VOR, stretch)
  • L1.3: Electrical Signals in Cells
  • L1.4: Resting Potential of Neuron Membranes
  • L1.5: Nernst Equation

Unit 2: Chemical Basis of Electrical Signals

  • L2.1: TIC and DOC
  • L2.2: Time & Space in Propagating Signals
  • L2.3: Ion Channels
  • L2.4: Post-synaptic Receptors
  • L2.5: Neurotransmitters and Pathology

Unit 3: Models of Biological Conductors

  • L3.1: Electrical Variables in Cells
  • L3.2: Core Conductor Model
  • L3.3: Observations from Action Potentials
  • L3.4: Derivation of the Cable Model
  • L3.5: Time-dependent Solutions

Unit 4: The Hodgkin-Huxley Model

  • L4.1: Alan Hodgkin and Andrew Huxley
  • L4.2: Ionic Conductances
  • L4.3: Derivation of the Hodgkin-Huxley Equation
  • L4.4: Insights from Hodgkin-Huxley
  • L4.5: Further insights from Hodgkin-Huxley

Unit 5: Applications of Bioelectricity

  • L5.1: Parkinson’s Disease
  • L5.2: Epilepsy
  • L5.3: Drug Addiction
  • L5.4: Targeted Muscle Reinnervation
  • L5.5: Optogenetics





Creative Commons BY License, a resource for nanoscience and nanotechnology, is supported by the National Science Foundation and other funding agencies. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.