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From The CriticsReviewer: David O. Staats, MD (University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center)
Description: This multiauthored series of essays describe animal models of human cognitive aging. With the clinical importance of memory disorders in late life, understanding which models of the aging brain are best suited to yield information about human aging and its diseases is timely.
Purpose: The purpose is to provide background information on the most widely used animal models of cognition and aging. By doing so, researchers can pick the animal model best suited to their needs, understanding the benefits and drawbacks of each animal model.
Audience: The audience includes the community, working in neurobiology and interested in age-related changes in brain function. The authors are all experts in this area.
Features: The first of the eight essays reviews the differences between normal age-related changes in brain function and the development of diseases like Alzheimer's. In a sort of general field theory, factors giving resistance to dementia are cited, especially exercise. This is followed by essays on brain aging in nonhuman primates, the prefrontal cortex in rats and man, and different cognitive rat models of human aging. Then comes a chapter comparing mice and rats; mice have a different field biology than rats, and their behavior, more furtive and anxious, reflects that they are dinner for many predators. Next are chapters on amyloid and Tau protein in rodent brain aging and a subtle chapter on the effects of sex and steroid hormones on the brain. The concluding essay is a fascinating look at how we tell (experience) time and the use of this perception as a model of the aging brain.
Assessment: This book is a winner from start to end. Each essay is carefully written with excellent annotation of the references. The synthesis of information is particularly noteworthy. For example, the aging of the brain is not the same in different areas of the brain, and the effects on functioning are not the same either. Exercise exerts a wonderful trophic factor in the brain. Then, in rodent models, an understanding of how different strains age permits selections of ages of these rodents so that they are comparatively at the same biological age (think dog years). Everyone interested in experimental models of the aging of the human brain will derive timely and useful information by delving into this excellent book.