The First Brain: The Neuroscience of Planarians

The First Brain: The Neuroscience of Planarians

by One R. Pagan
     
 

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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… See more details below

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

"In this book, Professor Pagan is an engaged and excited teacher about these fascinating little worms. ... Pagan writes with prose as clear as glass, and is able to bring even centuries-old insights on flatworms into the light. —Arrow Through the Sun

"The author's enthusiasm, humor, and conversational writing style make for an enjoyable and intriguing read that should interest science enthusiasts and professionals alike. ... The First Brain is a fun and interesting work that makes a plausible case for the effective use of planarians in biomedical studies. Highly recommended." —Choice

"The inaugural brain, belonging to flatworms, is the eponymous excuse for Oné Pagán's delightful book, The First Brain..." —Peggy Mason

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199358823
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Publication date:
03/18/2014
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
File size:
7 MB

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