The retina as a window into the brain

Peggy Frith, Arpan R Mehta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Citations (Scopus)


In 1885, Santiago Ramón y Cajal took a photographic self-portrait in his laboratory in Valencia, Spain, that shows his threadbare smock, sabots, simple microscope, and innumerable stains (appendix). With little money, little guidance, and not much knowledge of the scientific literature, he stated at that time that he was “forming the reckless desire to devote [himself]to the religion of the laboratory”, 1 as he had been transformed from a restless rebel in his schooldays into a focused observer. He described how, in his youth, watching a frog cut open to display its mesentery, he was “enraptured and tremendously moved on seeing the red and white blood cells move about like pebbles caught up in the force of a torrent”. With great artistry and accuracy, he drew mostly from memory and was renowned for his extraordinary concentration and visual recall. He followed the contemporary credo: “what has not been drawn has not been seen”.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)892
Number of pages1
JournalLancet Neurology
Issue number11
Early online date20 Oct 2021
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021


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