The Fine Structure of the Nervous System: Neurons and Their Supporting Cells

The Fine Structure of the Nervous System: Neurons and Their Supporting Cells

The Fine Structure of the Nervous System: Neurons and Their Supporting Cells

The Fine Structure of the Nervous System: Neurons and Their Supporting Cells

Synopsis

This book presents the most complete and authoritative description of the fine structure of the nervous system available in any single volume. The book begins with a historical account of the features of neurons and then embarks on a series of chapters dealing with specific portions of the nerve cell, and of the various kinds of supporting cells present. Structure is first described in a general way, and then details of the fine structure of each component are given and attempts are made to relate the structural features to their functions. The book is extensively illustrated with more than 130 electron micrographs and line drawings, over 50 of which are new to the edition. Each of the chapters has been extensively rewritten since the last edition was produced in 1976, so that the book has been brought completely up-to-date.

Excerpt

We wish to thank our many friends and colleagues who encouraged us to undertake a third edition of this book on the fine structure of the nervous system. This revision, like the previous editions (1970 and 1976), aims "to present in words and pictures an account of the salient features of mammalian neurons and neuroglial cells." We have thoroughly revised the text in order to bring it up to date, and we have exchanged many of the original micrographs for ones that we believe better show the characteristics of various structures. Through the generosity of our colleagues, we have been able to add new freeze-fractured material and some deep-etched preparations, as well as examples of various labeling techniques. Consequently, the number of figures has increased from 118 to 137, and 51 of them are new illustrations.

Since the last edition was published there has been not only an information explosion in neuroscience, but also a notable improvement in microtomes and electron microscopes, so that the production of good electron micrographs poses less of a challenge than it did even a decade ago. At the same time, however, some of the "art" of electron microscopy has been lost. In the 1960s and early 1970s, when the technical demands of electron microscopy were greater, investigators devoted themselves wholeheartedly to acquiring the skills necessary for producing electron micrographs that were both informative and esthetically attractive. Sharp and clean images of well-fixed material were the aims of every cytologist. Considerable effort was expended in the pursuit of the most complete rendition of protoplasmic structure possible. Such images permitted neurocytologists to distinguish and describe all the components of the complex tissue that the brain of any animal contains. Today, it is taken for granted that any study that requires them can be illustrated with electron micrographs. But with the increasing facility with the elementary techniques has come a decline in the exacting criteria both for acceptable electron micrography and for credible interpretation of the profiles displayed within them. Good examples of these changes in standards can be found in the identification of synaptic junctions in tissues taken from tracing experiments or from immunocytochemical studies. While this . . .

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