The Physics
An encyclopedia of scientific essays

Speed of Nerve Impulses

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Bibliographic Entry Result
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Myers, David G. Psychology 4th Edition.New York:Worth Publishers Inc,1995: 43. "Depending on the type of fiber, the neural impulse travels at speed ranging from a sluggish 2 miles per hour to, in some myelinated fibers, a breackneck 200 or more miles per hour. But even this top speed is 3 million times slower than the speed of electricity through a wire." 0.9–89.41 m/s
Comptons Interactive Encyclopedia. Softkey Multimedia Inc, 1997. "Some actions require split second responses--withdrawring a hand from a hot stove, for example. To relay the information necessary for such a reaction, there are large nerve fibers that can conduct impulses at speeds as high as 330 feet (100 meters) per second. Other kinds of activities, such as scholarly pursuits, may require a lifetime of thought. For these kinds of activities, other nerve fibers can be used to conduct signals more slowly--70 to 100 feet (20 to 30 meters) per second." 100 m/s
20–30 m/s
Nervous System. ThinQuest. January 1, 1995. "For example if we touch something, impulses travel through the nerve network to the brain at a rate of 350 feet per second" 107 m/s
Kraus, David. Concepts in Modern Biology.New York:Globe Book Company, 1969: 170. "The speed of the nerve impulse can be as high as one hundred meters (0.06 mile) per second." 100 m/s
How fast do nerve impulses travel? May 27, 2000. "Some kinds of signals, like the ones for muscle position travel on extra-fast nerve impulses at speeds of up to 390 feet per second (119 meter/second). Close your eyes and wave your arms around: you can tell where they are at every moment because the muscle-position nerves are very fast …. But other messages, like some kinds of pain signals travel much more slowly. If you stub your toe, you feel the pressure right away because touch signals travel at 250 feet per second. But you won't feel the pain for another two or three seconds, because pain signals generally travel an only two feet per second." 119m/s

The nervous system is responsible for transmitting impulses throughout the body. The function of our bodies throughout our lives are primarily supported by the nervous system. If not for the nervous system we will not be able to control our muscles, and our tissues and organs will no longer be able to function. Sense organs provide the nervous system with information about the environment through such senses as sight hearing, smell, taste, touch, pressure, and pain. Nerves are connected throughout the body leading up to the brain. They carry the information through the body in the form of electrochemical signals called impulses impulses. These signals travel from the brain to the spinal cord, through the nerves to the organs, tissues and muscles.

The speed of a nerve impulse varies with the type of nerve impulse the nervous system is sending. Some signals such as those for muscle position, travel at speeds up to 119m/s. Nerve impulses such as pain signals travel slower at 0.61m/s. Touch signals travel at speeds of 76.2m/s. If you are reading this at this moment and thinking at the same time, which some people may have trouble with, thought signals are traveling at speeds ranging between 20 and 30 meters per second.

David Parizh -- 2002

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