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February 10, 1940

Symposium on the Synapse

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By Herbert S. Gasser and others. Reprinted from Journal of Neurophysiology, 1939, 2. Paper. Price, $1.50. Pp. 361-474, with 25 illustrations. Springfield, Illinois & Baltimore: Charles C. Thomas, Publisher, 1939.

JAMA. 1940;114(6):516. doi:10.1001/jama.1940.02810060062026

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This classic of neurophysiology represents the present conceptions of synaptic conduction. It is invaluable and should be carefully studied. Gasser considers the axon as a sample of nervous tissue and qualitatively, therefore, as casting light on the physiology of synapse. This is achieved through the experimental demonstration of subnormal excitability in the axon as well as other parts of the neuron following single spikes or trains of spikes. This phenomenon renders the later discussion of inhibition and facilitation more understandable.

Erlanger then considers the question of differences between nerve fiber and synapse conduction. With the aid of information obtained by stimulation and polarization of the axon and studying such phenomena as latency, one way transmission, repetition, temporal summation, facilitation, and transmission of the action potential across a nonconducting gap, he is able to demonstrate "a temporal relation between subthreshold effect of a shock applied to a fiber, the subthreshold effect

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