Document Detail

Making the brain plastic: early neuroanatomical staining techniques and the pursuit of structural plasticity, 1910-1970.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  15069871     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
The concept of neuronal plasticity is widely used, but seldom defined in the neurosciences. It can signify many different occurrences, such as structural alterations of axons and dendrites (Cotman & Nadler, 1978), behavioural adaptations (Rosenzweig & Bennett, 1996), or physiological changes in synapse formation (Martin et al., 2000) at different stages of health and disease. Although there is such a wealth of research from many disciplines, the neuroanatomical aspects of plasticity are the focus of this paper. It seeks to illuminate the evolution of different concepts of plasticity concerning the structure and circuitry of the central nervous system (CNS). Early modern morphological research on de- and regeneration phenomena in the 19th- and early 20th-century is well documented. These studies, however, almost exclusively concentrated on the peripheral nervous system (PNS). It was one of the major contributions of Santiago Ramón y Cajal (1852-1934), that he applied the concept of regenerative capacities to the CNS. But the term plasticity seemed to have disappeared for about two decades after his death. The ensuing comeback of the expression may be attributed, at least in part, to new neuroanatomical staining and tracing methods. The pursuit of these techniques will serve as a guidepost through varying approaches in different times: It was the 1950s which seemed to spawn the time for new departures in structural investigations of neuronal plasticity.
Frank W Stahnisch
Publication Detail:
Type:  Biography; Historical Article; Journal Article    
Journal Detail:
Title:  Journal of the history of the neurosciences     Volume:  12     ISSN:  0964-704X     ISO Abbreviation:  J Hist Neurosci     Publication Date:  2003 Dec 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2004-04-08     Completed Date:  2004-05-11     Revised Date:  2004-11-17    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  9441330     Medline TA:  J Hist Neurosci     Country:  Netherlands    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  413-35     Citation Subset:  IM; Q    
Dept. of Cell- and Neurobiology, Institute for Anatomy, Humboldt University (Charité), Philippstr. 12, D-10115 Berlin, Germany.
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MeSH Terms
History, 19th Century
History, 20th Century
Neuroanatomy / history*,  methods
Neurology / history*
Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
Staining and Labeling / history*
Personal Name Subject
Personal Name Subject:
Santiago Ramón y Cajal

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