An equivalent electrical circuit has been constructed for small atrial trabecula of frog in a double sucrose gap voltage clamp apparatus. The basic strategy in constructing the circuit was to derive the distribution of membrane capacitance and extracellular resistance from the preparation's response to small voltage displacements near the resting condition, when the membrane conductance is presumably quite low. Then standard Hodgkin-Huxley channels were placed in parallel with the capacitance and the results of voltage clamp experiments were simulated. The results suggest that the membranes of the preparation cannot in fact be clamped near the control voltage nor can the ionic currents be measured directly with reasonable accuracy by axon standards. It may or may not be a realizable goal in the future to define the preparation's electrical behavior well enough to permit the ultimate quantitative description of the membrane's specific ion conductances. The result of this paper suggest that if this goal is achieved using the double sucrose gap voltage clamp, it will be by a detailed quantitative accounting for substantial irreducible errors in voltage control, rather than by experimental achievement of good voltage control.
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