Review of Research Methods and Resulting Discoveries

  • Santiago Ramón y Cajal


The nervous system of vertebrates is a mesh resulting from the intertwining and superposition of three principal elements: nerve cells, neuroglial cells and epithelial or ependymal cells. The axons or fibers, that many authors consider as another element of the nervous tissue, are only mere processes of nerve cells, and cannot be regarded logically as cytologic and physiologic units of this tissue.


Spinal Cord Gray Matter Nerve Cell Central Segment Dendritic Process 
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  1. Relatively old general publications, still useful to study the fine anatomy of the nervous system Deiters (1865), Luys (1865), Meynert (1872), Huguenin (1873), Krause (1876), Henle (1871), Schwalbe (1881), Wernicke (1881), Flechsig (1883), Mendel (1886), Ranvier (1889), Kahler (1888), Mingazzini (1889), Whittaker (1892), Feré (1886), Horsley (1892), Brissaud (1893).Google Scholar
  2. Modern general books with the new ideas on the structure of neural centers Golgi (1886, 1894b), Edinger (1893b, considerably enlarged in 1896), Van Gehuchten (1894, greatly expanded in 1897g), Cajal (Held’s translation, 1893a; see Azoulay’s better and more extensive French translation, 1895a; 1895c), Schäfer (1893b), Nicolas (1899), Bechterew (1894), Rauber (1894), Dejerine & Dejerine-Klumke (1895a), Lenhossék (1895b), Kölliker (1896; this is the most detailed account of nervous system histology), Obersteiner (1896), Peláez (1897), Duval (1897), Brass (1897).Google Scholar
  3. Reviews of the new discoveries and derived scientific theories Forel (1887), Cajal (1889b, 1890d, 1891b, 1894a, 1895b, 1897b), His (1890, 1893a, b), Kölliker (1892), Van Gehuchten (1891a), Lenhossék (1891b), Riese (1891), Golgi (1891b), Waldeyer (cited by Devic, 1893, 1894), Waldeyer-Hartz (1891), Obersteiner (1892), Dagonet (1893), Izquierdo (1893), Berdez (1893), Schäfer (1893a), Bergonzini (1893), Baker (1893), Tanzi (1893, 1896), Kupffer (1894), Soury (1897), [Athias (1904)].Google Scholar
  4. [Recent investigations on the structure of the neural protoplasm] [Apathy (1897), Bethe (1898a, 1903), Held (1897, 1904, 1905a,), Holmgren (1900, 1902c), Cajal (1903c), Joris (1903), Verworn (1900), Van Gehuchten (1904a), Rossi (1904), Donaggio (1904a), Michotte (1904b), Bielschowsky (1905), Nageotte (1905), Schief-ferdecker (1906).]Google Scholar


  1. 1.
    Before Golgi, Gerlach (1858, 1872) had already indicated the existence of axonal ramifications in some cells, as for instance the Purkinje cells of the cerebellum. Also Meynert (1872) had drawn them in axons of large cells in Ammon’s horn. But such assertions must be considered as conjectures or guesses, because only the Golgi method clearly demonstrates the existence of the said collateral branchlets.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    We have tried Golgi’s reaction with some success in the mitral cells of the guinea pig olfactory bulb two months after ablating a great extent of the olfactory mucosa, and in frog optic lobe, one month after excision of the eyes. In both cases, many dendrites, interlocked with arborizations of the olfactory nerve or the optic nerve, were stained; we only noticed some enhancement of the varicosities, but do not know whether this is a constant phenomenon.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    It is evident that in this case, the disuse cannot be of primary but of secondary nature, as if by accommodation to the absence of the conductor.Google Scholar


  1. a.
    One hundred years ago, Cajal could not conceive of the present explosion in Neuroscience knowledge, and estimated the need for many centuries to attain “completion of the Neurology edifice.”Google Scholar
  2. b.
    Cajal refers here to one of the so-called hypothalamic commissures, namely the dorsal supraoptic commissure of Ganser.Google Scholar

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© Springer-Verlag Wien 1999

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  • Santiago Ramón y Cajal

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