The Other Brain: From Dementia to Schizophrenia, How New Discoveries about the Brain Are Revolutionizing Medicine and Science

The Other Brain: From Dementia to Schizophrenia, How New Discoveries about the Brain Are Revolutionizing Medicine and Science

4.0 12
by R. Douglas Fields
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

Despite everything that has been written about the brain, a potentially critical part of this vital organ has been overlooked—until now. The Other Brain examines the growing importance of glia, which make up approximately 85 percent of the cells in the brain, and the role they play in how the brain functions, malfunctions, and heals itself.

LongSee more details below

Overview

Despite everything that has been written about the brain, a potentially critical part of this vital organ has been overlooked—until now. The Other Brain examines the growing importance of glia, which make up approximately 85 percent of the cells in the brain, and the role they play in how the brain functions, malfunctions, and heals itself.

Long neglected as little more than cerebral packing material, glia (meaning “glue”) are now known to regulate the flow of information between neurons and to repair the brain and spinal cord after injury and stroke. But scientists are also discovering that diseased and damaged glia play a significant role in psychiatric illnesses such as schizophrenia and depression, and in neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Diseased glia cause brain cancer and multiple sclerosis and are linked to infectious diseases such as HIV and prion disease (mad cow disease, for example) and to chronic pain. The more we learn about these cells that make up the “other” brain, the more important they seem to be.

Written by a neuroscientist who is a leader in glial research, The Other Brain gives readers a much more complete understanding of how the brain works and an intriguing look at potentially revolutionary developments in brain science and medicine.

Read More

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Did you know that the difference between the average human brain and Einstein's is the amount of glial cells? Measuring at about 85 percent of your total brain cells, with neurons a mere 15 percent, glia are the other brain—yet little is known about these cells. Weaving together medical history with cutting-edge research, Fields, a leading researcher in the field and editor of the journal Neuron Glia Biology, discusses the science that is gradually uncovering the role glial cells play in the brain, such as how myelin (formed by glia) prevents neuroregeneration. He also explains how our increasing understanding of glia sheds light on a variety of brain disorders such as Alzheimer's, brain cancer, spinal cord injuries, depression, and more. VERDICT Fields tells a great story about not only how our brains work but also the labor of discovery. He will provoke his readers to rethink what they know about their brains, whether how the brain communicates, develops, degenerates, heals, ages, remembers, or thinks. Like Norman Doidge's The Brain That Changes Itself, this volume will spellbind lay readers and academics interested in the latest discoveries in neuroscience.—Scott Vieira, Johnson Cty. Lib., Overland Park, KS
Kirkus Reviews
A detailed exploration of a major part of the brain that has been ignored for decades. In his first book, neuroscientist Fields, the editor of the journal Neuron Glia Biology, emphasizes that for centuries brain researchers have studied nerve cells, whose long, interconnected fibers exchange electric signals to direct our lives. These neurons make up 15 percent of the brain's cells, the author writes. The remaining 85 percent cling to neurons, enfold them or drift about. Called glial cells, they don't conduct electricity, so researchers mistakenly assumed that they only perform modest housekeeping duties or serve as filler. "Dismissed as cellular domestic servants," Fields writes, "glia were neglected for more than a century after they were discovered." With lucid prose-and a helpful ten-page glossary-the author reveals their vital role. They may not conduct electricity, but they communicate with each other and with neurons. In fact, the holy grail of brain research-understanding learning, memory, adaptation, mental illness and genius-is tied less to the process of neuron firing than to the mechanics of how glial cells influence them. (Einstein's brain contained an average number of neurons but a great excess of glia.) Wildly multiplying glia produce brain tumors; neurons rarely turn malignant. When glia malfunction, the outcome can be mental illness or retardation. Scientists long believed that brain neurons were not able to regenerate after an injury. It turns out that they try, but glial cells interfere. Researchers are beginning to see results from preventing this process. Fields enthusiastically delivers the history of brain disease and brain research and travels the worldinterviewing scientists and explaining their findings. He also goes out of his way to trumpet the miracles that could result from this new knowledge. So far few have emerged, but Fields makes a convincing case that understanding this "other brain" opens the door to dazzling possibilities.

Read More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781439160435
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster
Publication date:
12/29/2009
Sold by:
SIMON & SCHUSTER
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
384
Sales rank:
864,187
File size:
4 MB

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >