The Union of Nerve Cells

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TO a note by Mr. Alfred Sanders, in a recent number of NATURE (p. 101), criticising the assertion by Ramon y Cajal, that the nerve cells are independent units, and never form anastomoses between one another, I would like to remark that Cajal is not alone in forming such a conclusion. The general consensus of opinion of many other practical neuro-histologists favours the same conclusion. There is no doubt that many cases, such as that which Mr. Sanders mentions finding in Tropidonotus natrix, occur; I have found more or less similar ones in the brain of the honey-bee. But when one considers that two fibres in contact would, if thoroughly impregnated, present the appearance of continuity, it is more or less evident that one cannot be guided in forming a decision by such cases as those cited, and that one must depend upon the immensely larger number of cases in which the terminations of fibres are found near, but not in contact with, one another. This is to be said of all preparations by either the various Golgi, or by the methylen-blue, methods, and is something to which I have elsewhere called attention (“The Brain of the Bee,” p. 161–2, Journal of Comparative Neurology, vol. vi.).

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KENYON, F. The Union of Nerve Cells. Nature 55, 248 (1897) doi:10.1038/055248d0

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