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The First Brain: The Neuroscience of Planarians [NOOK Book]

Overview

Planarians, a class of flatworm, are extraordinary: they possess the remarkable ability to regenerate lost body parts, including complete regeneration of the nervous system. If cut into pieces, each piece of the planarian can regenerate into a complete organism. They are also unique among invertebrates in that they display addiction-like behaviors to many drugs abused by humans. Because of these distinct neurological traits, the planarian is often used as an animal model in neurological research, being used most ...
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The First Brain: The Neuroscience of Planarians

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Overview

Planarians, a class of flatworm, are extraordinary: they possess the remarkable ability to regenerate lost body parts, including complete regeneration of the nervous system. If cut into pieces, each piece of the planarian can regenerate into a complete organism. They are also unique among invertebrates in that they display addiction-like behaviors to many drugs abused by humans. Because of these distinct neurological traits, the planarian is often used as an animal model in neurological research, being used most recently for developments in neuropharmacology. The First Brain is a discussion of how planarians have been used in neuropharmacology, and what role they have played in scientific developments that have a high impact on our culture. Planarians have been the animal models for research in drug addiction, antidepressant development, and various other topics in biology, neurobiology, and even zoology. Pagan uses these flatworms as a framework to explore the history of biological research. The book provides accessible background information on how biomedical research is impacted by evolution, and defines neurobiology and neuropharmacology in ways that are easy to understand. At the same time, Pagan provides enough detail for the book to useful for scientists working in various subsections of biology. The planarian has played a key role in the history biological, neuropharmacological, and zoological research, and has even made appearances in a few unexpected places in popular culture. One Pagan explores all these roles, and shows us why the planarian truly is one of the most extraordinary and influential organisms in scientific research today.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"There are few good books about the evolution of the brain, but this is one of those few — a journey along an ancient byway of the animal kingdom which shows just how blinkered and vertebrate-obsessed neuroscience has become. In The First Brain we learn that planarians have an array of frankly bizarre features with very real implications for the origins of our own cerebral majesty. By the end of this appealingly personal and reflective book, Pagàn has cogently argued that it is only by studying his favorite cannibalistic worm that we can truly understand ourselves." —David Bainbridge, University Clinical Veterinary Anatomist, Cambridge University

"Flatworms are about as alien to us as an animal can be, but they finally have an ambassador. Pagan's engaging book walks us through why flatworms aren't aliens at all, and why they have the distinction of being the first animals on Earth having a "brain." ...A brain in many respects like our own." —Mark Changizi, 2ai Labs

"Reading Oné Pagán's The First Brain is a pleasure akin to sitting in the company of an especially engaging and erudite scientist as he tells of research (his own and others) on his favorite subject: in this case, the wondrous animals you and I call flatworms and biologists call planarians. Dr. Pagán's enthusiasm for science, neurobiology and the aforementioned creatures is utterly contagious. If you begin the book (like me) not recalling exactly what a planarian is, you'll close it wondering why you and everyone you know aren't talking, thinking and writing about them all the time." —David Toomey, author of Weird Life: The Search for Life That is Very, Very Different from Our Own

"I highly recommend this book to any clinical pediatric neurologist, neuropathologist, or basic neuroscientist with an interest in evolution and who keeps an open mind toward novel phylogenetic perspectives of the origin of the human nervous system, in addition to the novel practical research opportunities provided by this unique animal." —Journal of Child Neurology

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199358823
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 3/18/2014
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 741,505
  • File size: 7 MB

Meet the Author

Oné Pagán is Professor of Biology at West Chester University of Pennsylvania.

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Table of Contents

TABLE OF CONTENTS
INTRODUCTION
PART I - FUNDAMENTALS
Chapter 1. Science
Science does not exist
Reductionism, its advantages and limits
On theories and Theories
Evolution and Life
Chapter 2. Biomedical Research
Biochemistry and cell biology lite
How we classify life
Animal models and biomedical research
Basic or fundamental research?
PART II - THE SCIENCE OF THE BRAIN
Chapter 3. An introduction to neuroscience
Neuroscience or neurobiology?
Neurons
The Spaniard and the Italian
Excitable cells and electrophysiology
Synapses and chemical neurotransmission
Is a nervous system absolutely necessary for survival?
Plant Neurobiology
Chapter 4. The human brain
What exactly is a brain?
The human brain and nervous system
A brief history of what people thought of their brains
The complexity of the human brain / On really BIG numbers
Chapter 5. Some brief thoughts on pharmacology
What is pharmacology?
Psychopharmacology, plant style
Animal models in pharmacology
PART III - PLANARIANS
Chapter 6. Planarians
What is a flatworm?
Flatworm evolution and fossil records
What is a planarian?
Early works on planarians (1700-1800s)
Planariologists: Three "personal" connections
Chapter 7. Planarians in modern biology
Genetics
First they liked planarians then they didn't
Sages of regeneration
Of planarians and genomes

Chapter 8. Planarians in the popular culture: The arts, science fiction, fantasy and humor
Planarians in the popular culture
Planaria: Poem by Dr. Lance Larsen
Planarian man
Planaria and the new Battlestar Galactica
Fringe
Twilight
The Big Bang Theory
Dr. Who
Planarian humor
PART IV - THE FIRST BRAIN
Chapter 9. The first brain
Early, really early nervous systems
The first hunters
The first brain
Why are planarians an excellent animal model in neuroscience?
Very brief comments on protopsychology
Chapter 10. From corals and plants to planarians and rats
Planarians in pharmacology: nicotine and cocaine
The beginnings of systematic planarian pharmacology research
The Temple University team
The joy of discovery
From corals and plants to planarians and rats
Planarian research translated to vertebrates: What does it mean, and what it doesn't
What can the planarian brain teach us about our own?
EPILOGUE
REFERENCES - BOOKS
REFERENCES - ARTICLES

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