Neuron Doctrine and Electrophysiology

A quiet revolution has been taking place in our concepts of how the nerve cells act alone and in concert
  • Theodore Holmes Bullock


The neuron doctrine, which we chiefly owe to Cajal (1), was unquestionably a giant stride forward in the understanding of the substratum of nervous function. It forms the basis of all modem work on the nervous system. It asserts that the nerve cell and its processes, together called the neuron, form the cellular units of the nervous system which are directly involved in nervous function; that all nerve fibers are neuronal processes; that the neuron and all its extensions develop embryologically from a single neuroblast; and that the neuron is a trophic unit, all its processes being dependent upon the nucleated cell body for their maintenance and regeneration. Although this is not inherent in the original anatomical concept, the neuron has classically come to be regarded as a functional unit, and it is here that newer information forces a reappraisal.


Nerve Cell Local Potential Nerve Impulse Synaptic Potential Spike Threshold 


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References and Notes

  1. 1.
    S. Ramon y Cajal, Neuron Theory or Reticular Theory? (Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas, Madrid, 1954 ), English translation.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    A. T. Rasmussen, Some Trends in Neuronatomy (Brown, Dubuque, Iowa, 1947 ).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    For a complete bibliography, see S. Ramon y Cajal, Recollections of My Life; English translation by E. H. Craigie,.Nem. Am. Phil. Soc. 8 (1937).Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    T. H. Bullock and C. A. Terznolo, J. Physiol. (London) 138, 341 (1957).Google Scholar
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    F. Bremer, Physiol. Recs. 38, 357 (1958).Google Scholar
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    T. H. Bullock, Rout. Modern Phys.,in press; Exptl. Cell Research 5, suppl. 323 (1958).Google Scholar
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    G. Ling and R. W. Gerard, J. Cellular Comp. Physiol. 34, 383 (1949).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    The study by Watanabe and Bullock was aided by a grant from the National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Blindness, National Institutes of Health, and by a contract (NR 101–454) between the Office of Naval Research, Department of the Navy, and the University of California.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    H. Grundfest, Physiol. Reus. 37, 337 (1957).Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    See further: Ciba Foundation Symposium, Neurological Basis of Behavior (Churchill, London, 1958); J. C. Ecdes, The Physiology of Nerve Cells (Johns Hopkins Press, Baltic, Md., 1957); H. Fernandez-Moran and R. Brown, Expd. Cell Research 5, suppl. (1958); A. Fessard, Proc. Intern. Physiol. Congo. 20th Congr. Brussels (1956). Google Scholar
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    B. Hanström, Arkiu. Zool. 16, 10 (1924).Google Scholar
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    S. Ramon y Cajal, Histologie du Système Nerveux de l’Homme et des Vertébrés (Maloine, Paris, 1909–11).Google Scholar
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    J. S. Alexandrowicr, Quart J. Microscop. Sci. 75, 182 (1932).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Theodore Holmes Bullock

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