Passive and active responses to intracellular and extracellular stimulation were studied in the canine papillary muscle. The electrotonic potential produced by extracellular polarization with the partition chamber method fitted the time course and the spatial decay expected from the cable theory (the time constant, 3.3 msec; the space constant, 1.2 mm). Contrariwise, spatial decay of the electrotonic potentials produced by intracellular polarization was very short and did not fit the decay curve expected for a simple cable, although only a small difference of time course in the electrotonic potentials produced by intracellular and extracellular polarizations was observed. A similar time course might result from the fact that when current flow results from intracellular polarization, the input resistance is less dependent on the membrane resistance. The foot of the propagated action potential rose exponentially with a time constant of 1.1 msec and a conduction velocity of 0.68 m/sec. The membrane capacity was calculated from the time constant of the foot potential and the conduction velocity to be 0.76 µF/cm2. The responses of the papillary muscle membrane to intracellular stimulation differed from those to extracellular stimulation applied with the partition method in the following ways: higher threshold potential, shorter latency for the active response, linearity of the current-voltage relationship, and no reduction in the membrane resistance at the crest of the action potential during current flow.

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