Gray matter ( GM ; Meckel, 1817 ) : Since the 16th century the nervous system (Monro, 1783) has been divided more and more precisely into gray matter and white matter (Meckel, 1817) based on their appearance in freshly dissected material observed with the naked eye-topographic macroarchitecture of nervous system; since the 19th century this differentiation has been made at the histological (subsystems microarchitecture of nervous system) level. Gray matter is the nervous system compartment that consists of the cell bodies (Deiters, 1865) of neurons (Waldeyer, 1891); the cytoplasmic neuron extensions: axons (K├Âlliker, 1896), dendrites (His, 1889), and amacrine extensions; and synapses (Foster & Sherrington, 1897) between the neuron extensions-as well as glia (Virchow, 1846) and parts of the circulatory system: vascular cells. Neuropil (Waldeyer, 1891) refers to the gray matter compartment exclusive of cell bodies and vascular cells (blood vessels) and thus consists of the cytoplasmic extensions of neurons and glia, including synapses. There is often a fuzzy border of variable and difficult to measure width between white matter and gray matter. For early history see Clarke & O'Malley (1996, Ch. 10); for modern histological interpretation see Peters et al. (1991), Swanson (2003, pp. 60-66). The general term "nervous system gray matter" as defined here was probably first used by Meckel for macrodissected adult humans (1817, see English translation, 1832 vol. 2, pp. 152-154, 166-167); also see Herrick (1915, p. 108).

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