The pacemaker neurons of the heart ganglion are innervated from the CNS through two pairs of acceleratory nerves. The effect of acceleratory nerve stimulation was examined with intracellular electrodes from the pacemaker cells. The major effects on the pacemaker potential were an increase in the rate of rise of the spontaneous depolarization and in the duration of the plateau. The aftereffect of stimulation could last for minutes. No clear excitatory postsynaptic potential (EPSP) was observed, however. On high frequency stimulation, a small depolarizing response (the initial response) was sometimes observed, but the major postsynaptic event was the following slow depolarization, or the enhancement of the pacemaker potential (the late response). With hyperpolarization the initial response did not significantly change its amplitude, but the late response disappeared, showing that the latter has the property of the local response. The membrane conductance did not increase with acceleratory stimulation. The injection of depolarizing current increased the rate of rise of the spontaneous depolarization, but only slightly in comparison with acceleratory stimulation, and did not increase the burst duration. It is concluded that the acceleratory effect is not mediated by the EPSP but is due to a direct action of the transmitter on the pacemaker membrane.

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