From the Last Skirmishes around the Neuron Theory to the Functional Anatomy of Neuron Networks

  • John Szentágothai


When I was “awakening” on the scene of neurobiology in the early thirties, the neuron concept was once again under heavy barrage from the “reticularists,” then led by Jan Boeke at Utrecht and by Philipp Stöhr, Jr., at Bonn. My first impressions about this nineteenth-century type of scientific Streitschrift (debate) derived from the hopeless struggle of my revered teacher in anatomy, Michael von Lenhossék, to refute the claims of Boeke (1926) about the existence of a “periterminal network” in the motor endplate, which would allegedly prove the continuity between neural and muscle substance. Von Lenhossék had too critical a mind not to realize that it was impossible then to beat Boeke with his own weapons, the sole use of neurofibrillar impregnation methods: so he refrained from publishing anything about the results of his last researches. However, I became “imprinted” with a fundamental distrust of the “histological picture” as a source of information about things that were not obvious in routine preparations and not visible with the mediocre resolving power of available optic systems.


Purkinje Cell Neuron Network Cerebellar Cortex Mossy Fiber Climbing Fiber 
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© Birkhäuser Boston 1992

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  • John Szentágothai

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