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John Newport Langley and His Construction of the Autonomic (Vegetative) Nervous System


The paper describes the scientific career of Professor John Newport Langley, an outstanding English physiologist and histologist, member of the London Royal Society and its Vice-President. The main scientific achievements of Langley are dealing with anatomy and physiology of the autonomic (vegetative) nervous system that he considered as an entirely efferent system. The autonomic nervous system was divided by Langley into three parts: sympathetic, parasympathetic, and enteral (intestinal) systems. He has also established functional differences of the autonomic nervous system from the somatic one. He suggested the presence of synaptic contacts on muscle and secretory cells, as well as the existence in these synaptic structures of a peculiar receptor substance providing interaction of nerve fibers with postganglionic neurons and effector cells of visceral organs. The examples of development of several Langley's concepts at present are given.

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Nozdrachev, A.D. John Newport Langley and His Construction of the Autonomic (Vegetative) Nervous System. Journal of Evolutionary Biochemistry and Physiology 38, 537–546 (2002).

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  • Nervous System
  • Nerve Fiber
  • Effector Cell
  • Autonomic Nervous System
  • Royal Society