Distal dendrites of frog motor neurons: a computer-aided electron microscopic study of cobalt-filled cells

J Neurocytol. 1986 Jun;15(3):303-10. doi: 10.1007/BF01611433.


With the aid of the cobalt labelling technique, frog spinal cord motor neuron dendrites of the subpial dendritic plexus have been identified in serial electron micrographs. Computer reconstructions of various lengths (2.5-9.8 micron) of dendritic segments showed the contours of these dendrites to be highly irregular, and to present many thorn-like projections 0.4-1.8 micron long. Number, size and distribution of synaptic contacts were also determined. Almost half of the synapses occurred at the origins of the thorns and these synapses had the largest contact areas. Only 8 out of 54 synapses analysed were found on thorns and these were the smallest. For the total length of reconstructed dendrites there was, on average, one synapse per 1.2 micron, while 4.4% of the total dendritic surface was covered with synaptic contacts. The functional significance of these distal dendrites and their capacity to influence the soma membrane potential is discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cobalt*
  • Computers
  • Dendrites / ultrastructure*
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Motor Neurons / ultrastructure*
  • Pia Mater
  • Rana esculenta
  • Spinal Cord / ultrastructure
  • Synapses / ultrastructure


  • Cobalt