On the 25th of October 1906, Santiago Ramón y Cajal, one of the pioneers of modern neuroscience, won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.Today, 115 years later, Spain is still performing cutting-edge research in neuroscience in centers such as the Neuroscience Institute of Alicante (CSIC-UMH) and the Centre of Molecular Biology Severo Ochoa (CSIC-UAM)

Santiago Ramón y Cajal was born in Petilla de Aragón (Navarra, Spain) on the 1st of May of 1852. He studied Medicine at the University of Zaragoza and carried out his research in Valencia, Barcelona, and Madrid. His work focused on the structure of the nervous system. He demonstrated that the relationship between nerve cells was not continuous but contiguous, proving the existence of gaps between neurons. This finding is the base of neuron theory and is considered the foundation of modern neuroscience. In recognition of this work and its implications, Ramón y Cajal received the Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology in 1906, together with Camillo Golgi. Ramón y Cajal was the first Spanish scientist to win such a prestigious award.

Since that moment, Spain has continuously been doing high-level research in neuroscience. One example is the research performed at the Institute of Neuroscience (IN) in Alicante, recognised as a Severo Ochoa Center for Excellence. The researchers at the IN study the structure, function, and development of the nervous system at molecular, cellular, and integrative levels. One of their most recent studies shows that communication between corporal fat and the brain determines sexual maturation.

Another example of cutting-edge research is the latest article from the Center of Molecular Biology Severo Ochoa on neurodegenerative diseases. This work, just published in Science, confirms the existence of stem cells in the human hippocampus, which proliferate and generate new neurons in a process called adult hippocampal neurogenesis (AHN). They also show that disruptions in AHN may lead to neurodegenerative diseases.

The synergies between neuroscience and other disciplines (medicine, engineering, etc.) are also crucial nowadays. For instance, a recent interdisciplinary project led by researchers from the Universidad Miguel Hernández has allowed a blind woman to visualise shapes and letters by implanting her a brain implant.

All these findings and achievements, and many others to come, would not have been possible had Ramón y Cajal not observed and described neurons 115 years ago. There have been loads of advances since then, and in the following decades, research in neuroscience and related subjects will be essential, but Spain and its researchers will continue to have a leading role in them.