Why do nerve impulses travel faster in myelinated neurons?

The myelin sheath is a fatty layer made up of the hugely expanded plasma membrane of schwann cells which surround the axon of neurons. The axon is unprotected where the sheath of one cell meets the next and these points are known as nodes of Ranvier. Voltage gated sodium ion channels are confined to the nodes. The influx of sodium ions at one node creates enough depolarization to reach the threshold of the next. This means that the action potential 'jumps' from one node to the next. The process is known as saltatory conduction and results in much faster propagation of the nerve impulse compared to non-myelinated neurons (where action potentials travel as one slow wave)

Hannah T. A Level Biology tutor, GCSE Maths tutor, GCSE Biology tutor

2 years ago

Answered by Hannah, an A Level Biology tutor with MyTutor

Still stuck? Get one-to-one help from a personally interviewed subject specialist


£22 /hr

Thomas D.

Degree: Neuroscience (Bachelors) - Kings, London University

Subjects offered: Biology, Science+ 3 more


“I am currently in my second year of a Neuroscience Bachellors' degree at a Russel Group institution, that is King's College London. Having done five (yes 5) A2s, and achieved an A* and 5 As, I know a few tricks of the trade so to spea...”

£20 /hr

Catherine T.

Degree: BSc Medical Sciences with Professional Training Year (Bachelors) - Exeter University

Subjects offered: Biology, Science+ 3 more

Human Biology
Extended Project Qualification
English Literature

“Aims and methods: I focus on breaking things down in to easy to digest pieces of information and will use a variety of methods to look at an aspect of your course. I will aim to make things clear and easy to remember, whilst also hopi...”

MyTutor guarantee

£22 /hr

Eleanor H.

Degree: Biochemistry (Bachelors) - Bristol University

Subjects offered: Biology, Chemistry


“ABOUT ME: I am a biochemistry student, currently studying at the University of Bristol, and have had a passion for the natural sciences from a very young age. I am patient, hardworking and experienced, having tutored students in Maths...”

About the author

Hannah T.

Currently unavailable: until 04/12/2015

Degree: Biology (Bachelors) - Durham University

Subjects offered: Biology, Maths


“Friendly, patient and engaging tutor, ready to help you with Biology GCSE and A-level and achieve the best grades possible! ”

You may also like...

Other A Level Biology questions

In DNA, if you know the percentage of a base on 1 strand, how do you work out the bases on the opposite strand?

Outline the role of the Golgi Apparatus:

What are the differences between DNA and RNA?

How do I answer a 'Describe and Explain' question?

View A Level Biology tutors


We use cookies to improve our service. By continuing to use this website, we'll assume that you're OK with this. Dismiss