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Creating Modern Neuroscience: The Revolutionary 1950s$
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Gordon M. Shepherd MD, DPhil

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195391503

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195391503.001.0001

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Cell Biology and the Synapse

Cell Biology and the Synapse

(p.56) 5 Cell Biology and the Synapse
Creating Modern Neuroscience: The Revolutionary 1950s

Gordon M. Shepherd

Oxford University Press

Before the 1950s, cell structure could be studied only under the light microscope, and the organelles that do the work of the cell were seen only indistinctly. By the end of the 1950s, the electron microscope (EM) and other methods had opened up an entirely new field of cell biology, in which each organelle was recognized as contributing its particular set of functions to the overall mechanism of the cell. Most importantly for the nervous system, the synaptic contacts made by nerve cells could be clearly identified and characterized. Many neurological disorders are due to pathological changes affecting synaptic function, and much of pharmaceutical research on drug discovery is aimed at the synapse. This chapter focuses on the chemical synapse as the organelle most special for nerve cells.

Keywords:   chemical synapse, synaptic contacts, nerve cells, organelles

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