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October 1951


Author Affiliations


From the Department of Anatomy, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

AMA Arch NeurPsych. 1951;66(4):427-430. doi:10.1001/archneurpsyc.1951.02320100027004

CHROMATOLYSIS of the basophilic Nissl substance of the cytoplasm of neurons is a well-recognized phenomenon that occurs when the axon is severed. The pattern of this chromophil material undergoes alterations when the neuron is injured in other ways. It can be influenced to a certain extent by anoxia and by concussion, and it begins to change promptly after death. Many investigators have held that alterations in amount and arrangement of the Nissl substance reflect changes in the metabolic state of the neuron. The theory that intense functional excitation of a neuron leads to depletion of the Nissl substance has attracted many.

Dolley1 was among the first to deal extensively with this problem, but his results, which appeared to support the theory, were discredited to a large extent by later investigators. More recently, Hydén2 reported that electrical excitation of neurons for only five minutes increased the nucleotide and protein

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