Beyond the Zonules of Zinn: A Fantastic Journey Through Your Brain [NOOK Book]

Overview

In his latest book, David Bainbridge combines an otherworldly journey through the central nervous system with an accessible and entertaining account of how the brain's anatomy has often misled anatomists about its function. Bainbridge uses the structure of the brain to set his book apart from the many volumes that focus on brain function. He shows that for hundreds of years, natural philosophers have been interested in the gray matter inside our skulls, but all they had to go on was its structure. Almost every ...

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Beyond the Zonules of Zinn: A Fantastic Journey Through Your Brain

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Overview

In his latest book, David Bainbridge combines an otherworldly journey through the central nervous system with an accessible and entertaining account of how the brain's anatomy has often misled anatomists about its function. Bainbridge uses the structure of the brain to set his book apart from the many volumes that focus on brain function. He shows that for hundreds of years, natural philosophers have been interested in the gray matter inside our skulls, but all they had to go on was its structure. Almost every knob, protrusion, canal, and crease was named before anyone had an inkling of what it did—a kind of biological terra incognita with many weird and wonderful names: the zonules of Zinn, the obex ("the most Scrabble-friendly word in all of neuroanatomy"), the aqueduct of Sylvius, the tract of Goll.

This uniquely accessible approach lays out what is known about the brain (its structure), what we can hope to know (its function), and what we may never know (its evolution). Along the way Bainbridge tells lots of wonderful stories about the "two pounds of blancmange" within our skulls, and tells them all with wit and style.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

In this "geographical tour" of the nervous system, readers will find an entertaining and enlightening history of neuroscience and a look at the anatomy of the brain. A clinical anatomist at Cambridge University, Bainbridge (The X in Sex) has had ample opportunity to examine the brain and ponder its origins and function-as well as the many strange and marvelous names of its parts, labeled long before anyone knew what they did. The Zonules of Zinn-"a name from an ancient map, from a souk, from another galaxy"-are small fibers attached to the lens of the eye that adjust it for seeing at different distances. Bainbridge discusses the history and function of each name: in addition to hillocks and pyramids are the Almonds (amygdalae), part of the emotional response system, and the locus coeruleus, or "sky-blue place," involved in alertness and stress. Your brain even has its own "Area 51," thanks to a German neuroanatomist whose system of numbering different regions of the cerebral cortex is still used today. Bainbridge's tour also includes short discussions of nervous system disorders like multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. The book's relaxed pace, interesting tangents and broad coverage make this book eminently suitable for anyone curious about the brain. 30 b&w illus. (Jan.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal

Early in this wonderful exploration of the brain and central nervous system, Bainbridge (clinical anatomy, Cambridge Univ.; Making Babies: The Science of Pregnancy) clarifies his anatomist's bias, stating that the best way to understand the brain is through its structure. As he guides readers through the central nervous system from the base of the spine to the front of the brain, Bainbridge explains how the central nervous system develops during the embryonic stage, and then he discusses the adult brain. Writing in prose that is precise, descriptive, and engaging, he offers vibrant depictions of neuroscientists' discoveries and the brain's evolution. Moving from structure and evolution to the senses, engineering, and wiring of the brain, the author eloquently describes the functioning of the central nervous system and then briefly examines the connections between the brain and the mind, along with more esoteric functions such as memory and consciousness. Within these descriptions, Bainbridge discusses some of the diseases and issues the brain can encounter during early development and in its adult form, from spina bifida and meningitis to Parkinson's and synesthesia. Highly recommended for all collections.
—Candice Kai

School Library Journal

In this "geographical tour" of the nervous system, readers will find an entertaining and enlightening history of neuroscience and a look at the anatomy of the brain. A clinical anatomist at Cambridge University, Bainbridge (The X in Sex) has had ample opportunity to examine the brain and ponder its origins and function-as well as the many strange and marvelous names of its parts, labeled long before anyone knew what they did. The Zonules of Zinn-"a name from an ancient map, from a souk, from another galaxy"-are small fibers attached to the lens of the eye that adjust it for seeing at different distances. Bainbridge discusses the history and function of each name: in addition to hillocks and pyramids are the Almonds (amygdalae), part of the emotional response system, and the locus coeruleus, or "sky-blue place," involved in alertness and stress. Your brain even has its own "Area 51," thanks to a German neuroanatomist whose system of numbering different regions of the cerebral cortex is still used today. Bainbridge's tour also includes short discussions of nervous system disorders like multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. The book's relaxed pace, interesting tangents and broad coverage make this book eminently suitable for anyone curious about the brain. 30 b&w illus. (Jan.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
The Lancet

Absorbing...[Bainbridge's] witty journey from spinal cord through brain stem to cerebral cortex, ending with a cautious chapter on the "deceitful spectre" of consciousness, is unashamedly personal...Despite the complexity of the human brain, Bainbridge seeks to convince the non-specialist that it is, in fact, "simpler than you might have thought."...Highly informative and historically minded.
— Andrew Robinson

Times Higher Education Supplement

This book does an excellent job of introducing the layout of the brain in an easily digestible form through describing the history of its discovery while celebrating quirkiness in its nomenclature and the eccentricities of early anatomists...This book is enjoyable to read and provides an excellent contribution to making some of the apparently bizarre structure and functioning of the brain accessible to the lay reader. All neuroscientists should also welcome it: as a teacher of neuroanatomy for many years I certainly read it with pleasure.
— M. W. Brown

Human Givens Journal

David Bainbridge is establishing a reputation for clear, popular science writing, laced with imaginative flair and good humor, plus the essential skill of good storytelling. It is a reputation this book is likely to enhance...Presented as a journey through the "geography" of brain and nervous system, the book introduces its lay readers to a phantasmagoria of exotically named parts, from the Tolkienesque tract of Goll to the canal of Schlemm, Varolio's bridge and a host more.
— Rob Parkinson

Booklist
With great good humor, anatomist Bainbridge conducts a tour up the spinal cord to the cerebral cortex, en route covering, in succession, embryonic brain development, the structuring of the senses, and the workings of the mind. A tour de force of popular science writing.
The Lancet - Andrew Robinson
Absorbing...[Bainbridge's] witty journey from spinal cord through brain stem to cerebral cortex, ending with a cautious chapter on the "deceitful spectre" of consciousness, is unashamedly personal...Despite the complexity of the human brain, Bainbridge seeks to convince the non-specialist that it is, in fact, "simpler than you might have thought."...Highly informative and historically minded.
Times Higher Education Supplement - M. W. Brown
This book does an excellent job of introducing the layout of the brain in an easily digestible form through describing the history of its discovery while celebrating quirkiness in its nomenclature and the eccentricities of early anatomists...This book is enjoyable to read and provides an excellent contribution to making some of the apparently bizarre structure and functioning of the brain accessible to the lay reader. All neuroscientists should also welcome it: as a teacher of neuroanatomy for many years I certainly read it with pleasure.
Human Givens Journal - Rob Parkinson
David Bainbridge is establishing a reputation for clear, popular science writing, laced with imaginative flair and good humor, plus the essential skill of good storytelling. It is a reputation this book is likely to enhance...Presented as a journey through the "geography" of brain and nervous system, the book introduces its lay readers to a phantasmagoria of exotically named parts, from the Tolkienesque tract of Goll to the canal of Schlemm, Varolio's bridge and a host more.
The Barnes & Noble Review
Isaac Asimov's nonfiction writing on science was famously marked by a seemingly effortless clarity amid complex ideas, a personal passion and experience, and a general infectious glee in the marvels of the cosmos. The same qualities shine through in David Bainbridge's Beyond the Zonules of Zinn. Vibrantly communicating his own sense of wonder at the intricacies of the human brain, the author handily escorts the reader through an anatomical and evolutionary labyrinth that would otherwise be daunting even in a classroom setting. Bainbridge's motto is that a knowledge of structure always has and always must precede an understanding of function. Neuroanatomy from its outset tried to identify the structures of the brain and establish their physical interrelations, without attempting to pinpoint such "higher-order" functions as memory and consciousness. Although today's researchers are making -- pardon the inevitable pun -- headway in such assignments of functionality to structure, Bainbridge focuses mainly on the astonishing "geography" of the human brain. The reader is borne through the varied anterooms, chambers, bridges, and canals of the brain and its outliers as if on an Asimovian "fantastic voyage." The chapters on vision are typical of Bainbridge's ability to parse the intricate machinery of nerves and neurons, lenses and retinas, but perhaps his most endearing trait is the juvenile delight he takes in the various gruesome abnormalities and diseases of the mind. After reading about such aberrations as Ondine's Curse and fetus in fetu, you will bless every minute of normal mental operation you enjoy. --Paul DiFilippo
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674020429
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 6/30/2009
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 842,160
  • File size: 1,024 KB

Meet the Author

David Bainbridge is University Clinical Veterinary Anatomist at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of St. Catharine's College.

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Table of Contents


Contents
Prologue
I. A Grand Tour of Terra Incognita
The spinal cord
1 Skull Marrow
First thoughts about the mind
2 Servants and Guards of the Great King
The classical brain
3 The Brain as Geography
Maps of the mind
4 A River Runs Through It
The development of a brain
5 Leonardo's Butterfly
The spinal cord
6 Interlude
The worm that turned (over)
II. An Assault on the Senses
The brain stem
7 A Forest So Dense
The new anatomy of Santiago Ramon y Cajal
8 The Little Fish Who Never Grew Up
The origins of the ear
9 The Brain as Archaeology
The hindbrain
10 Beauty Is in the Eye of the, er, Squid
The origins of the eye
11 Hillocks, Buttocks, Blindsight, and Black Stuff
The midbrain
12 Stinkin' and Thinkin'
The origins of the nose
13 Into the Marriage Chamber for Some Sexy Synesthesia
Entering the forebrain
14 Why Is "D" Brown?
When the senses mix
15 Interlude
Shrapnel and magnets
III. Where All the Mind May Be Found?
The cortex
16 The Brain as Engineering
Wilder Penfield and the cortex
17 The Apparent Disorder of the Cerebral Jungle
What is in those hemispheres?
18 The Seahorse and the Almond
Memory, learning, and fear
19 The Hard Question
Brain size and consciousness
Epilogue: No Turning Back
Further Reading
Index
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