Purkinje cells, also called Purkinje neurons, are neurons in vertebrate animals located in the cerebellar cortex of the brain. Purkinje cell bodies are shaped like a flask and have many threadlike extensions called dendrites, which receive impulses from other neurons called granule cells. Each cell also has a single projection called an axon, which transmits impulses to the part of the brain that controls movement, the cerebellum. Purkinje cells are inhibitory neurons: they secrete neurotransmitters that bind to receptors that inhibit or reduce the firing of other neurons. Purkinje cells were the first neuronal cells identified. Researchers study the embryonic development of Purkinje cells to elucidate how they function in various mechanisms in the body.

Walter Edward Dandy studied abnormalities in the developing human brain in the United States in the twentieth century. He collaborated with pediatrician Kenneth Blackfan to provide the first clinical description of Dandy-Walker Syndrome, a congenital brain malformation in which the medial part of the brain, called the cerebellar vermis, is absent. Dandy also described the circulation of cerebral spinal fluid, the clear, watery fluid that surrounds and cushions the brain and spinal cord. That description led Dandy to examine how the impeded flow of cerebral spinal fluid caused congenital hydrocephalus, which occurs when fluid accumulates in the brain causes it to swell. Dandy discovered brain anomalies that primarily develop during embryonic development, and his work helped to detect brain abnormalities.

Dandy-Walker Syndrome is a congenital brain defect in humans characterized by malformations to the cerebellum, the part of the brain that controls movement, and to the ventricles, the fluid-filled cavities that surround the cerebellum. The syndrome is named for physicians Walter Dandy and Arthur Walker who described associated signs and symptoms of the syndrome in the 1900s. The malformations often develop during embryonic stages. In early infancy, symptoms include slow motor development and a progressive enlargement of the skull due to cerebrospinal fluid accumulation called hydrocephalus. The prognosis of Dandy-Walker syndrome is highly variable, ranging from minor or negligible birth defects to profound malformations, disability, or early death.

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