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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Sean D. Ruland, DO (University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine)
Description: This is a relatively brief review of recent advances in the structural and neurochemical changes that occur in both normal aging and neurodegenerative processes.
Purpose: According to the editors, the purpose is to "exchange findings, discuss ideas, and assess what is currently known of the aging brain." I question, however, the need for this book, although I am writing this review from a clinician's perspective. Objectively speaking, the contributors do manage to voice their objectives despite this volume's lack of practical usefulness.
Audience: The stated evidence is quite vague, but appropriate, targeting anyone interested in this subject matter. I agree, since it cannot be stated that this is written for a specific audience such as the clinician, scientist, student, or post-graduate student.
Features: This is a review of neuroscience data, both human and animal, pertaining to neurodegeneration, both normal and pathologic. Much of the ideas provoked by this data are highly theoretical and have limited clinical application at this time. This book updates the reader on how far research has come and by no means underestimates how far we still have to go. Specific topics discussed (beyond normal aging) include, obviously, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and prion disease. This work probably raises more questions than provides answers. Visual aids are somewhat sparse and rather bland — perhaps consistent with the content.
Assessment: I realize this review has been critical of the lack of clinical usefulness of this book, but I cannot say that no one should read this work. It will not change the way medicine is practiced, but for those interested in the roots of the science that leads to clinical changes, this book may be of interest.