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Logo of jphysiolThe Journal of Physiology SiteMembershipSubmissionJ Physiol
J Physiol. May 1971; 215(1): 247–268.
PMCID: PMC1331876

The mechanism of excitation by acetylcholine in the cerebral cortex


1. The muscarinic depolarizing action of ACh on cortical neurones is associated with an increase in membrane resistance (mean ΔVR = 3·16 mV/MΩ).

2. ACh also promotes repetitive firing by slowing repolarization after spikes.

3. The depolarizing effect has a mean reversal level of -86·7 mV (with mean resting potential -56 mV).

4. It is concluded that as a muscarinic excitatory agent, ACh probably acts by reducing the resting K+ conductance of cortical neurones, and also the delayed K+ current of the action potential.

5. These results are discussed in relation to the possible role of ACh in cortical function.

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