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Macroscopic Self-Organized Electrochemical Patterns in Excitable Tissue and Irreversible Thermodynamics

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DOI: 10.4236/ojbiphy.2016.64011    1,234 Downloads   1,769 Views Citations


In this paper we make the assertion that the key to understand the emergent properties of excitable tissue (brain and heart) lies in the application of irreversible thermodynamics. We support this assertion by pointing out where symmetry break, phase transitions both in structure of membranes as well as in the dynamic of interactions between membranes occur in excitable tissue and how they create emergent low dimensional electrochemical patterns. These patterns are expressed as physiological or physiopathological concomitants of the organ or organism behavior. We propose that a set of beliefs about the nature of biological membranes and their interactions are hampering progress in the physiology of excitable tissue. We will argue that while there is no direct evidence to justify the belief that quantum mechanics has anything to do with macroscopic patterns expressed in excitable tissue, there is plenty of evidence in favor of irreversible thermodynamics. Some key predictions have been fulfilled long time ago and they have been ignored by the mainstream literature. Dissipative structures and phase transitions appear to be a better conceptual context to discuss biological self-organization. The central role of time as a global coupling agent is emphasized in the interpretation of the presented results.

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de Lima, V. and Hanke, W. (2016) Macroscopic Self-Organized Electrochemical Patterns in Excitable Tissue and Irreversible Thermodynamics. Open Journal of Biophysics, 6, 98-124. doi: 10.4236/ojbiphy.2016.64011.

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