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Brain Res Rev. 2011 Jan 7;66(1-2):75-82. doi: 10.1016/j.brainresrev.2010.09.005. Epub 2010 Sep 16.

The diffuse nervous network of Camillo Golgi: facts and fiction.

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1
Department of Neurobiology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA. elio_raviola@hms.harvard.edu

Abstract

The name of Camillo Golgi is inextricably associated, in the mind of most neuroscientists, with the theory that nerve cells communicate with one another by means of an intricate network of anastomosing axonal branches contained in the neuropil intervening between cell bodies in the gray matter of the brain and spinal cord. Examination, however, of Golgi's drawings in the papers published in the decade intervening between publication of his method (1873) and the beginning of his studies on malaria (1885) shows that axonal arborization in the cerebellar cortex and olfactory bulb are depicted as independent of one other. This is in striking contrast with the drawings included by Golgi in his 1906 Nobel lecture where the entire granular layer of the cerebellar cortex is occupied by a network of branching and anastomosing nerve processes. Thus, Golgi in his original papers on the cerebellum represents nerve cells as discrete units and only later in life merges axonal arborizations in the context of a lecture in defense of the reticular theory.

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