The "psychic cell" of Ramón y Cajal

Prog Brain Res. 2002;136:427-34. doi: 10.1016/s0079-6123(02)36035-7.


Santiago Ramón y Cajal might have envisioned, but likely could not have anticipated, the scientific advances that have allowed the functional validation of the existence of a "psychic cell" in the prefrontal cortex and its extension to human cognition at the end of the 20th century. This achievement rests not only on the shoulders of giants but on many small steps in the development of primate cognition, single and multiple unit recording in behaving monkeys, light and electron microscopic analysis of cortical circuitry no less than on the evolution of concepts about memory systems and parallel processing networks, among other advances. We can only wonder what the next generation of neuroscientists will bring to our understanding of brain-behavior relationships and human information capacity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Animals
  • Auditory Perception / physiology
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Interneurons / cytology
  • Interneurons / physiology*
  • Memory, Short-Term / physiology
  • Neural Inhibition / physiology
  • Neural Pathways / cytology
  • Neural Pathways / physiology*
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology
  • Prefrontal Cortex / cytology
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology*
  • Pyramidal Cells / cytology
  • Pyramidal Cells / physiology*