If we consider an analogy between a wire and a neuron there may be some resemblance between the factors controlling the data flow rate. For example the increased width of wire leads to decreased resistance etc; similarly increasing or decreasing the thickness of myelin sheath may have an effect on the conductivity or data transfer between neurons.

Are there additional factors that can control the speed of nervous conduction?

  • $\begingroup$ Are you interesting in processing speed (could be measured via reaction time for example) or in speed of signal transfer? $\endgroup$
    – sviter
    May 8, 2014 at 11:28
  • $\begingroup$ I think both are related to each other?arn't they.I mean one effects the other.My interest is in processing speed and yes/obviously it could be measured with reaction time but i was was interested what make's this speed at the cellular level $\endgroup$
    – munish
    May 8, 2014 at 14:16
  • $\begingroup$ In this case look at synaptic delay. In my best knowledge it's the most time consuming factor of nervous conduction $\endgroup$
    – sviter
    May 15, 2014 at 8:20
  • $\begingroup$ Unfortunately, we cannot consider an analogy between a neuron and a wire; they are altogether different. Do you want to ask about the processing power of the brain, or speed of signal along a neuron? I suggest you pick one, and revise your question accordingly - unlike in electronics, these are quite separate concerns. $\endgroup$
    – Superbest
    May 17, 2014 at 10:14
  • $\begingroup$ Well you are right i am interested in processing power of brain and i thought speed signal along a neuron will be involved in that matter.I think its to late for me to revise. $\endgroup$
    – munish
    May 18, 2014 at 11:47

2 Answers 2


The diameter of axons also makes a difference, the thicker the axon, the faster the rate of action potential conduction. This is seen in invertebrates, such as squid. Squid have giant axons (up to 2mm in diameter), which exhibit rapid conduction rates. See Wikipedia 'squid giant axon', in which it says up to 1mm, but I have measured 2mm myself. These are not found in mammals.

Original research on squid giant axon was by Cole & Curtis (The Journal of general physiology, 1939). For more recent research see Hartline & Colman (Curr Biol. 2007 Jan 9;17(1):R29-35.).

Work by Hodgkin, Huxley and Katz (The Journal of physiology, 1952, 116(4): 424–448) using squid giant axons lead to the elucidation of the mechanism of action potential conduction and a Nobel prize. Academic summary here: http://jp.physoc.org/content/538/1/2.full

Wikipedia: see the Goldman equation (Goldman shared the Nobel Prize with Hodgkins and Katz). This is more frequently known as the Goldman-Hodgkin-Katz equation in UK publications.


The myelin sheath of a neuron affects conduction of action potentials.

Things to read through at wikipedia for example are the Nodes of Ranvier, the saltatory conduction and the Schwann cells.

There might be other features changing nervous conduction, but those are the ones I remember from my study times.

  • $\begingroup$ The question already includes the case of myelination. $\endgroup$
    May 5, 2014 at 9:22
  • $\begingroup$ It included also the words "may have". I just pointed out that this assumption is true. And the question only mentioned thickness, not gaps. $\endgroup$
    – skymningen
    May 5, 2014 at 12:36

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