From Neuron to Brain / Edition 4

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In the 25 years since From Neuron to Brain was first published, the authors' aim has remained constant–to describe how nerve cells go about their business of transmitting signals, how the signals are put together, and how, out of this integration, higher functions emerge. The new Fourth Edition, while maintaining this focus, has been completely reformatted and updated.

The emphasis, as before, is on experiments, and on the way they are carried out. Using a narrative approach, the authors follow a line from the original inception of a new idea to an account of research being done today. The wealth of new facts, techniques, and concepts, however, presented a challenge in keeping the book to a manageable size. Inevitably, the authors have had to delete descriptions of certain classical experiments.

Largely in response to readers' comments, elements of format and presentation have been changed for this new edition–more headings have been introduced, the paragraphs are shorter, and the illustrations, now in full color, have been clarified. As in previous editions, references are cited throughout the text, and appendices are provided to help readers unfamiliar with the nervous system deal with essential facts and definitions.

Intended for use in upper-level undergraduate, graduate, psychology, and medical school Neuroscience courses, From Neuron to Brain will be of interest to anyone, with or without a specialized background in biological sciences, who is curious about the workings of the nervous system. It presents a readable and coherent account of how cellular and molecular approaches can provide insights into the workings of the brain.

"...presents a coherent description of the nervous system from the perspective of modern work on molecular biology, cellular & developmental biology, biophysics, neurophysiology, neurochemistry, and neuroanatomy.

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Editorial Reviews

A text for students without a specialized background in biological sciences. Describes how nerve cells transmit signals, how signals are put together, and how higher functions emerge from this integration. Emphasis is on experiments and the way they are carried out. Sections cover principles of signaling, signaling in the nervous system, integrative mechanisms, and development of the nervous system. This edition is somewhat condensed, and includes color illustrations. Nicholls is affiliated with the International School for Advanced Studies, Italy. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780878934393
  • Publisher: Sinauer Associates, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 12/8/2000
  • Edition description: Subsequent
  • Edition number: 4
  • Pages: 580
  • Product dimensions: 8.74 (w) x 11.36 (h) x 1.15 (d)

Table of Contents

I. Introduction
1. Principles of Signaling and Organization

Organization of the Retina
Signaling in Nerve Cells
Cellular and Molecular Biology of Neurons
Signals for Development of the Nervous System
Regeneration of the Nervous System after Injury
II. Signaling in the Nervous System
Membrane Proteins and Their Function
2. Ion Channels and Signaling
Properties of Ion Channels
Measurement of Single-Channel Currents
BOX 2.1. Measuring Channel Conductance
3. Structure of Ion Channels
The Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptor
A Receptor Superfamily
Voltage-Activated Channels
Other Channels
Diversity of Subunits
BOX 3.1. Cloning Receptors and Channels
BOX 3.2. Classification of Amino Acids
BOX 3.3. Expression of Receptors and Channels in Xenopus Oocytes

4. Transport across Cell Membranes
The Sodium-Potassium Exchange Pump
Calcium Pumps
Sodium-Calcium Exchange
Chloride Transport
Transport of Neurotransmitters
Molecular Structure of Transporters
Significance of Transport Mechanisms
Properties of Neurons and Glia
5. Ionic Basis of the Resting Potential
A Model Cell
Membrane Potentials in Squid Axons
Changes in Membrane Potential
6. Ionic Basis of the Action Potential
Sodium and Potassium Currents
Voltage Clamp Experiments
The Role of Calcium in Excitation
BOX 6.1. The Voltage Clamp
7. Neurons as Conductors of Electricity
Passive Electrical Properties of Nerve and Muscle Membranes
Propagation of Action Potentials
Conduction in Dendrites
Pathways for Current Flow between Cells
BOX 7.1. Electrotonic Potentials and the Membrane Time Constant
BOX 7.2. Classification of Nerve Fibers in Vertebrates
BOX 7.3. Stimulating and Recording with External Electrodes
BOX 7.4. Current Flow between Cells

8. Properties and Functions of Neuroglial Cells
Physiological Properties of Neuroglial Cell Membranes
Functions of Neuroglial Cells
Effects of Neuronal Activity on Glial Cells
Glial Cells and the Blood-Brain Barrier
Glial Cells and Immune Responses of the CNS
BOX 8.1. The Blood-Brain Barrier
Communication between Excitable Cells
9. Principles of Direct Synaptic Transmission
Nerve Cells and Synaptic Connections
Electrical Synaptic Transmission
Chemical Synaptic Transmission
Direct Synaptic Inhibition
BOX 9.1. Electrical Model of the Motor End Plate
10. Indirect Mechanisms of Synaptic Transmission
Metabotropic Receptors and G Proteins
Direct Modulation of Channel Function by G Proteins
G Protein Activation of Cytoplasmic Second Messenger Systems
Calcium as an Intracellular Second Messenger
Prolonged Time Course of Indirect Transmitter Action
BOX 10.1. Identifying Responses Mediated by G Proteins
BOX 10.2. Cyclic AMP as a Second Messenger
BOX 10.3. Diacylglycerol and IP3 as Second Messengers
BOX 10.4. Formation and Metabolism of Arachidonic Acid

11. Transmitter Release
Characteristics of Transmitter Release
Quantal Release
Vesicle Hypothesis of Transmitter Release
12. Synaptic Plasticity
Short-Term Changes in Signaling
Long-Term Changes in Signaling
13. Cellular and Molecular Biochemistry of Synaptic Transmission
Neurotransmitter Synthesis
Storage of Transmitters in Synaptic Vesicles
Axonal Transport
Transmitter Release and Vesicle Recycling
Transmitter Receptor Localization
Removal of Transmitters from the Synaptic Cleft
BOX 13.1. The SNARE Hypothesis
14. Neurotransmitters in the Central Nervous System
Mapping Transmitter Distribution
Peptide Transmitters in the CNS
Regulation of Central Nervous System Function by Biogenic Amines
BOX 14.1. Molecular Methods and CNS Transmitters
III. Integrative Mechanisms
Circuits Mediating Stereotyped Behavior
15. Cellular Mechanisms of Integration and Behavior in Leeches, Ants, and Bees
From Neurons to Behavior and Vice Versa
Integration by Individual Neurons in the CNS of the Leech
Navigation by Ants and Bees
Why Should One Work on Invertebrate Nervous Systems?
16 Autonomic Nervous System
Functions under Involuntary Control
Synaptic Transmission by Postganglionic Axons
BOX 16.1. The Path to Understanding Sympathetic Mechanisms
Acquisition and Analysis of Sensory Information
17. Transduction of Mechanical and Chemical Stimuli
Stimulus Coding by Mechanoreceptors
Transduction of Mechanical Stimuli
Mechanisms of Taste (Gustation)
Transduction of Nociceptive and Thermal Stimuli
BOX 17.1. Sensory Epithelia of the Inner Ear
18. Processing of Somatosensory and Auditory Signals
The Somatosensory System: Tactile Recognition
The Auditory System: Encoding Sound Frequency
BOX 18.1. Brodmann's Areas
The Visual System
19. Transduction and Signaling in the Retina
The Eye
The Retina
Visual Pigments
Transduction by Photoreceptors
Transmission from Photoreceptors to Bipolar Cells
Receptive Fields of Ganglion Cells
BOX 19.1. Adaptation of Photoreceptors
20. Analysis of Form in Primary Visual Cortex
The Lateral Geniculate Nucleus
Cytoarchitecture of the Cortex
Strategies for Exploring the Cortex
21. Functional Architecture of the Visual Cortex
Ocular Dominance Slabs
The Integration of Visual Information
Where Do We Go from Here?
BOX 21.1. Color Constancy
BOX 21.2. Corpus Callosum
Initiation and Control of Movement
22. Cellular Mechanisms of Motor Control
The Motor Unit
Spinal Reflexes
Generation of Coordinated Movement
Motor Cortex and the Execution of Voluntary Movement
The Cerebellum
The Basal Ganglia
BOX 22.1.Extracellular Recording of Motor Activity
IV. Development of the Nervous System
23. Development of the Nervous System

Early Neural Morphogenesis
Regional Specification of Neural Tissue
Determination of Neuronal and Glial Cell Identity
Axon Outgrowth
Axon Guidance
Target Innervation
Synapse Formation
Growth Factors and Survival of Neurons
Competitive Interactions during Development
General Considerations of Neural Specificity
BOX 23.1. Discovery of Nerve Growth Factor
24. Denervation and Regeneration of Synaptic Connections
Changes in Axotomized Neurons and the Surrounding Glial Cells
Effects of Denervation on Postsynaptic Cells
Regeneration in the Vertebrate Peripheral Nervous System
Role of Basal Lamina at Regenerating Synapses
Regeneration in the Mammalian CNS
25. Critical Periods in Visual and Auditory Systems
The Visual System in Newly Born Monkeys and Kittens
Effects of Abnormal Experience in Early Life
Requirements for Maintenance of Functioning Connections in the Visual System
Cellular and Molecular Mechanisms of Deprivation Changes
Critical Periods in the Auditory System
Critical Periods for Higher Functions
V. Conclusion
26. Open Questions

Appendix A: Current Flow in Electrical Circuits
Appendix B: Metabolic Pathways for the Synthesis and Inactivation of Low-Molecular-Weight Transmitters
Appendix C: Structures and Pathways of the Brain
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