By Prof. Dr. Valentino Braitenberg, Priv. Doz. Dr. Almut Schüz (auth.)
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Extra resources for Anatomy of the Cortex: Statistics and Geometry
16). If we distinguish a number of distinct neuron types, we may measure the axonal length for each type separately. Knowing (or estimating) the relative frequency of each type, we can calculate the total axonal density in the tissue. In our first effort (Braitenberg 1978b) this took the form of a rough estimate, I or 2 km of axons per mm3 . The other method we used to assess the total axonal length in a unit volume ("axonal density") was based on electron micrographs. On these it is possible to recognize the fragments of axons among those of dendrites, glia and other tissue components.
Lm in the case of the collateral, which was followed for the longest distance (Fig. 21 below). Lm. This value was much lower than expected, but probably does not represent the true average over the whole axonal tree. Lm) on their more distal segments, which make up most of the total axonal length belonging to the neuron. Lm. The most interesting finding in this tedious analysis was the one which actually discouraged us from carrying it any further. It became clear in the reconstruction of the axon collaterals from serial electron micrographs that most of the synapses were located on swellings of the axon which had previously been recognized on the Golgi picture and which were also quite apparent on the electron micrographs.
The Golgistained cell was photographed and drawn with the camera Iucida (Fig. 21, above); care was taken to capture every kink of the collaterals in order to facilitate the comparison of the electron microscopy with the light microscopic picture. On the serial electron micrographs which were then made, the axon of the stained cell with its synapses was easily recognized. Lm of its collaterals were also surveyed for synapses. The initial segment of the axon carried 12 synapses in which it functioned as the postsynaptic element.