Discovering the structure of nerve tissue: part 1: from Marcello Malpighi to Christian Berres.J Hist Neurosci. 2015; 24(3):268-91.JH
The invention of the microscope at the beginning of the seventeenth century was a pivotal event for subsequent studies of the microscopic structure of nerve tissue. The present article, using translations of the original texts, presents a recollection of the discoveries made during the second half of the seventeenth century up to the beginning of the nineteenth century by prominent scholars as well as those nearly forgotten today. The findings in the field of neuroanatomy are collected together into a coherent form and in chronological order, showing the progress of the discoveries from a historical perspective. The early scientists discovered, and then repeatedly confirmed, that nerve tissue was remarkably similar over a wide range of animal forms. While they offered little detail, and much of what was described was flawed because of various technical restraints of the time, what they did report was very similar from animal to animal. Their studies, however, in parallel with the improvement of microscopic techniques as well as the processing and fixation of animal tissues, helped to create fertile ground for a number of important neurohistological discoveries in the first half of the nineteenth century.