The dendritic spine story: an intriguing process of discovery

Front Neuroanat. 2015 Mar 5;9:14. doi: 10.3389/fnana.2015.00014. eCollection 2015.


Dendritic spines are key components of a variety of microcircuits and they represent the majority of postsynaptic targets of glutamatergic axon terminals in the brain. The present article will focus on the discovery of dendritic spines, which was possible thanks to the application of the Golgi technique to the study of the nervous system, and will also explore the early interpretation of these elements. This discovery represents an interesting chapter in the history of neuroscience as it shows us that progress in the study of the structure of the nervous system is based not only on the emergence of new techniques but also on our ability to exploit the methods already available and correctly interpret their microscopic images.

Keywords: Cajal; Golgi; Purkinje cells; granule cells; history of neuroscience; neuron doctrine; pyramidal cells; reticular theory.

Publication types

  • Review