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J Basic Clin Physiol Pharmacol. 2016 Sep 1;27(5):457-62. doi: 10.1515/jbcpp-2016-0007.

Monophasic action potential recordings: which is the recording electrode?


The aim of this article is to provide an overview of current debate on the monophasic action potential (MAP) recording technique, specifically whether the depolarizing or the reference electrode is responsible for recording the MAP waveform. A literature search was made using key words including monophasic action potential, MAP, electrophysiological basis, recording electrode, depolarizing electrode, contact electrode, indifferent electrode, and reference electrode. References from articles were screened for additional relevant papers. Articles published by the different experimental groups claim that depolarizing electrode, but not reference electrode, records MAPs from the myocardium. This can be more accurately described when considering biophysical theory, which states that MAP is a bipolar signal with contributions from not only the depolarizing electrode but also remote activation at the reference electrode. It is not meaningful to claim that one is the recording electrode because potential differences must be measured between two points in space. Nevertheless, the MAP technique is useful for assessing the local electrical activity of the myocardium in contact with the depolarizing electrode. It is important to have the recording electrode in close proximity with the reference electrode to minimize contamination from far-field signals.

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