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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Elizabeth Connor, MLS, DM/AHIP(The Citadel)
Description: This volume, the fifth in a series, features autobiographical essays of noted, contemporary 20th century neuroscientists.
Purpose: The subject of how the brain and mind function has fascinated researchers in many areas of study including biology, anatomy, physiology, immunology, physics, and chemistry. The purpose of this work is to capture "the experiences that shaped their lives; the teachers, colleagues, and students with whom they worked; and the scientific work that has absorbed them during their careers." These experiences are compelling and often gripping.
Audience: Neurologists, psychologists, psychiatrists, researchers, medical students, basic science students, and historians of medicine involved or interested in neurophysiology, neurochemistry, vision research, biophysics, immunology fields will appreciate this book. This book could easily be the focal point of an interdisciplinary seminar course.
Features: The preface indicates that the History of Neuroscience Committee of the Society for Neuroscience convened to invite selected individuals to participate in writing this work. This work is part of a series that began in 1996. Each volume heralds and celebrates the lives and careers of noted neuroscientists by compiling autobiographic essays from each. Each chapter essay in this volume is supplemented by one or more photographs, brief curriculum vitae, and a selected bibliography for each of the 16 pioneers featured. Countries of origin include Australia, Colombia, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, United Kingdom, and United States, but most of the scientists lived and worked in the U. S. or U. K. Most of the scientists were born in the 1920s or 1930s; the youngest was born in 1943 and the oldest was born in 1918. It seems unusual that only one woman (Lynn T. Landmesser) is featured, and that she is the youngest of the group, but previous volumes in this series included one or two female scientists in a scientific field that is predominantly male.
Assessment: It is telling that the series editor (Larry R. Squire) is a renowned neuroscientist interested in mammalian memory. The stories are inspirational and compelling, and sometimes poignant. The tone of many of the essays is conversational. The volume includes a name index but a subject index would have been helpful. Sir William Osler said, "The very first step toward success in any occupation is to become interested in it." This work explains clearly what drew each of these scientists to science itself, and persuaded them to study aspects of biology, neurology, psychiatry, and psychology. This series of books is certain to attract more students and researchers to neuroscientific fields.