The Anatomic Substrate
The nineteenth century is considered the great age of cellular biology because it witnessed fundamental insights gained from detailed studies of life processes and the underlying structural elements on which they rest. The names of Johannes Müller and Theodor Schwann are prominent here, representing the Continental scientists who were endeavoring to answer specific questions about the basic form of both plant and animal tissues. Great progress in knowledge of the macroanatomy of the nervous system had been made, yet there was no understanding of its basic structural elements, that is, the neural tissue (histology), and more specifically the nerve cell itself (cytology). Progress in the study of fiber-tracts and pathways coursing to and from the main motor and sensory regions in the brain depended on the development of new knowledge at the microanatomic level and histological description became the research focus for investigators such as Meynert in Vienna and Betz in Russia during the midcentury. With the introduction of the compound microscope and microtome and improved fixation (hardening) and staining techniques, those histological approaches prompted great refinements in cytological research and forecast our present reductionist era of molecular biology.
KeywordsNerve Fiber Nerve Cell Pyramidal Cell Lateral Geniculate Nucleus Striate Cortex
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