Harrison Observes the Development of Nerve Fibers in the Laboratory (Great Events from History II: Science and Technology Series)
Article abstract: Using the new technique of tissue culture, Harrison observed the development of nerve fibers from neural tissue removed from a frog embryo.
Summary of Event
With the formulation of the cell theory by Theodor Schwann in 1839, the cellular nature of differentiated tissues such as those found in the nervous system had become apparent. During the ensuing decades, the nature of the nervous system had undergone extensive investigation, and an overview of its embryonic development had become firmly established as the nineteenth century drew to a close. It was clear that during early stages of embryonic development, the neural cleft, or tube, consisted of histologically identical cells. As differentiation proceeded, peripheral nerve fibers began to extend from the neural tube in the form of elongated structures called axons, the ends of which were characterized by an extensive network of fine processes. The nature of the formation of these nerve fibers, the development of which resulted in the formation of cell connections within the nervous system, was the source of considerable controversy among those scientists who studied neural biology.
Three major theories had been advanced that attempted to account for their formation. Two of these hypotheses were based primarily on observations during the embryonic stage of development and were limited by the extent of nineteenth century experimental...
(The entire section is 2037 words.)
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