Under physiological conditions, action potentials are generally assumed to travel one-way. Action potentials are generated in the dendritic region, and travel from the soma to the axon terminal. Because voltage-gated sodium channels are inactivated after having been active during action potential generation, the action potential cannot travel backwards because the tail-end of the action potential is basically temporarily shut down (Fig. 1). The duration of inactivation of sodium channels determines how fast a neuron can fire, i.e., it determines the refractory period of neurons (Purves et al., 2001).
Fig. 1. Action potential conduction and refractoriness. Source: Zoology.
When neural tissue is artificially electrically stimulated, however, action potentials can be generated anywhere along the neuron. When an axon is activated somehwere in the middle with an electrical stimulus, an action potential will travel both ways, i.e. normally to the axon terminal, but also antiodromically to the cell body.
However, it has been noted in vivo that some neurons do show antidromic action potentials under physiological conditions (Jansen et al., 1996). For modeling purposes I would not bother too much about this, though, because antidromic action potentials are generally only observed under artificial conditions.
- Jansen et al., J Neurophysiol; 76(6): 4206-9
- Purves et al., ed. Neuroscience. 2nd ed. Sunderland (MA): Sinauer Associates; 2001