The effects of several alcohols on the resting potential, action potential, and voltage-clamp currents of the squid giant axon have been measured. All the alcohols employed are similar in that they depress maximum sodium conductance much more than maximum potassium conductance. Octyl alcohol differs from the others (C2 through C5) in that it has less tendency to depolarize the axon. Depolarization is always accompanied by a decrease of gK near the resting potential, such that the ratio gK/gleak is decreased. Steady-state inactivation of the sodium ion current is unaffected by alcohols, as is membrane capacity. Resting membrane conductance is usually decreased by alcohols. The findings are discussed in relation to work on monomolecular films.

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