Development of Nerve Connections with Muscles and Peripheral Sense Organs

  • Marcus Jacobson


We have considered the growth of knowledge about out growth of nerve fibers (Section 5.1) and note here only the historical origins and early evolution of ideas about peripheral nerve endings. The history of ideas about the modes of termination of peripheral nerve fibers parallels that of ideas about endings of nerve fibers in the central nervous system (CNS). Until the 1860s it was generally believed that the peripheral nerves end by anastomosing with one another to form plexuses in the skin and muscles. It was also thought that sensoI) nerve fibers branch and anastomose in the skin and mucous membranes and then recombine to form ijbers that return to the CNS (Beale, 1860, 1862). The concept of anastomosis between the processes of nerve cells in the CNS was supported by the evidence available at that time (see Sections 5.1 and 6.1). Both central and peripheral nervous systems were believed to be organized on the principle of nerve networks. Microscopes could not resolve individual fine unmyelinated nerve fibers in the peripheral nerves. They revealed fascicles which were mistaken for single nerve fibers. Interlacing of such fascicles was misconstrued as true anastomoses between fibers. As we shall see later , this misconception persisted until Ranson (1911) showed that peripheral nerves contain large numbers of unmyelinated fibers and proved that they are sensoI) (Ranson, 1913, 1914, 1915).


Motor Nerve Muscle Spindle Taste Cell Motor Axon Neuromuscular Synapse 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marcus Jacobson
    • 1
  1. 1.The University of Utah School of MedicineSalt Lake CityUSA

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