Invented by Bert Sakmann and Erwin Neher during the 1970s, the patch-clamp recording technique aids scientists in examining the functions of individual protein molecules that form ion channels in cell membranes. The importance of this outstanding contribution, which has revolutionized neurophysiology and greatly augmented understanding of cell membranes, is underscored by the fact that Sakmann and Neher received the Nobel Prize in 1991. The fundamental finding arising from patch-clamp experiments is that currents through cell membranes pass through protein channels. This chapter provides a brief introduction to the patch-clamp technique and presents the fundamental equations that govern currents through individual ion channels. The electrophysiology of three types of ion channels is described: nongated chloride channels, voltage-gated sodium and potassium channels, and ligand-gated acetylcholine channels.
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