What is the mind?

F. Frank LeFever flefever at ix.netcom.com
Wed Dec 9 00:37:05 EST 1998

Hmmm!  Do you think Ramon y Cajal knew of Nansen's work before 1891? 
(MUCH before??).  Thanks for this interesting history!

I nearly flipped when I saw "Nansen...museum...Bergen.."--then realized
I almost misread it as "Hansen".  I had a room near the Leprosy Museum
when I attended the International Neuropsychological Society meeting in
Bergen in spring of 1997...

Impressive Norwegians!

F. LeFever

In <74g3pm$mlp$1 at oravannahka.Helsinki.FI>
dag.stenberg at helsinki.nospam.fi writes: 
>In bionet.neuroscience F. Frank LeFever <flefever at ix.netcom.com>
>> [Golgi] did indeed believe that the brain was a continuous net, but
Ramon y
>> Cajal (whose keen eye and prodigious visual memory has probably not
>> been matched to this day) used Golgi's new technique to see fine
>> juxtapositions and conclude that it was not a continuous net but was
>> made up of separate components, i.e. neurons.  They shared the Nobel
>> prize for this ironic "collaboration".
>At the recent SFN meeting, and thanks to John S. Edwards of the
>University of Washington, I learned that Ramon y Cajal was actually
>the first to publish facts forming what is called the Neuron Doctrine
>(that the nervous system is formed of separate components, and is not 
>a continuous reticulum).
>  In the article by John S.Edwards and Roland Huntford: "Fridtjof
>from the neuron to the North Polar Sea", Endeavour 22:76-80, 1998, we
>learn that Nansen, then a zoologist at the Museum in Bergen, Norway, 
>went to learn the silver staining technique from Golgi at the
>of Pavia. Nansen had previously studied the invertebrate myzostoma,
>expressed doubts as to the validity of Golgi's reticular theory
>F.: Bidrag till myzostomernes anatomi og histologi, Bergen Museum
>Having learnt the Golgi technique, Nansen went to Naples, where he 
>studied invertebrate and lower vertebrate nervous systems, and in the
>resulting paper in the Bergen Museum Yearbook (Bergens Museums
>Aarsberetning, pp. 55-78, 1885), he concludes that he has been unable
>to demonstrate with certainty any anastomoses between different nerve
>cells. In an article in Jenaische Zeitschrift für Naturwissenschaft
>XXI:267-321, 1887, he emphasizes that nerve cells have their own
>membranes, and they do not fuse which each other. A more complete
>description is in the 1886 Yearbook: "Bergens Museums Aarsberetning
>1886", pp. 29-195, 1887, and in Nansens Ph.D. thesis "The Structure
>Combination of the Histological Elements of the Central Nervous
>Nordisk medicinsk arkiv XIX:1-24, 1888, also published in German in
>Anatomisch. Anzeig. III:157-169, 1888.
>  Nansen thus seems to have been the first to demonstrate the
>discontinuity between nerve cells. (He was also the first to discover
>the bifurcation of spinal ganglia into an ascending and a descending
>branch, and to postulate the ectodermal origin of Schwann cells). 
>In May 1888, Santiago Ramon y Cajal published his first paper on the
>independence of nerve cells (in Revista Trimestr. Histologia Normal y
>Patologica, 1st May 1888, pp. 305-315). He states: 'each element is an
>absolute autonomous physiological canton'. Ramon y Cajal was working
>the vertebrate nervous system.
>  Ramon y Cajal is said to refer to Nansen's work only once, in 1891
>(recognizing Nansen among authors who have confirmed the independence 
>of neurons). But W.Waldeyer, who in 1891 coined the term "Neuron" (in
>Berliner Klinische Wochenschrift XXVIII:691, 1891), does refer to 
>Nansen's work.
>  All this is from the abovementioned article by Edwards and Huntford,
>and I am very grateful to Dr. Edwards for telling us this piece of the
>History of Neuroanatomy, and for sending me a reprint.
>Dag Stenberg
>University of Helsinki, Finland

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