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Physiol Rev. 2011 Apr;91(2):555-602. doi: 10.1152/physrev.00048.2009.

Axon physiology.

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Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale U.641 and Université de la Méditerranée, Faculté de Médecine Secteur Nord, Marseille, France.


Axons are generally considered as reliable transmission cables in which stable propagation occurs once an action potential is generated. Axon dysfunction occupies a central position in many inherited and acquired neurological disorders that affect both peripheral and central neurons. Recent findings suggest that the functional and computational repertoire of the axon is much richer than traditionally thought. Beyond classical axonal propagation, intrinsic voltage-gated ionic currents together with the geometrical properties of the axon determine several complex operations that not only control signal processing in brain circuits but also neuronal timing and synaptic efficacy. Recent evidence for the implication of these forms of axonal computation in the short-term dynamics of neuronal communication is discussed. Finally, we review how neuronal activity regulates both axon morphology and axonal function on a long-term time scale during development and adulthood.

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