Intended for healthcare professionals

Reviews Book

Nerve Endings: The Discovery of the Synapse

BMJ 2006; 332 doi: (Published 02 February 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;332:308
  1. Boleslav L Lichterman (
  1. Centre for the History of Medicine, Russian Academy of Medical Sciences, Moscow

    The Spanish histologist Santiago Ramón y Cajal (1852-1934) wrote in his memoir: “Really, the garden of neurology offers the researcher captivating spectacles and incomparable artistic emotions. My aesthetic instincts find there full satisfaction. Like the entomologist catching beautiful butterflies, my attention pursued in the garden of gray matter, the delicately and gracefully shaped cells, the mysterious butterflies whose wing beats might some day reveal the secret of mental life.” Richard Rapport, a neurosurgeon from Seattle, found a copy of this book on a dusty shelf of a secondhand book shop, and it inspired him to tell a story aimed at a general audience about the life and work of this “constant gardener.”

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    Richard Rapport

    W W Norton, £15.99/$23.95, pp 224

    ISBN 0 393 06019 5

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    The son of a doctor's assistant in a remote Spanish village, Cajal had been interested in painting and photography from childhood and preferred Jules Verne's novels to academic routine. In 1877 he was appointed assistant professor of anatomy at the University of Zaragoza and managed to buy a microscope of his …

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