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

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

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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.
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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.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781439160435
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publication date: 12/29/2009
  • Sold by: SIMON & SCHUSTER
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 614,678
  • File size: 5 MB

Table of Contents

Pt. I Discovering the Other Brain

Ch. 1 Bubble Wrap or Brilliant Glue? 3

Ch. 2 A Look Inside the Brain: The Cellular Components of the Brain 16

Ch. 3 Transmissions from the Other Brain: Glia Know and Control Your Mind 48

Pt. II Glia in Health and Disease

Mending the Mind: Glia Repairing Nervous System Damage and Disease 65

Ch. 4 Brain Cancer: Almost Nothing to Do with Neurons 69

Ch. 5 Brain and Spinal Cord Injury 80

Ch. 6 Infection 107

Ch. 7 Mental Health: Glia, Silent Partners in Mental Illness 133

Ch. 8 Neurodegenerative Disorders 162

Ch. 9 Glia and Pain: A Blessing and a Curse 183

Ch. 10 Glia and Addiction: A Neuron-Glia Dependence 200

Ch. 11 Mother and Child 209

Ch. 12 Aging: Glia Rage against the Dying Light 233

Pt. III Glia in Thought and Memory

Ch. 13 The Mind of the Other Brain: Glia Controlling the Conscious and Unconscious Mind 249

Ch. 14 Memory and Brain Power beyond Neurons 268

Ch. 15 Thinking beyond Synapses 280

Ch. 16 Into the Future: The New Brain 305

Glossary 311

Notes 323

Bibliography 329

Index 359

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Customer Reviews

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  • Posted March 20, 2014

    I liked the way this book was written. It covered new discoveri

    I liked the way this book was written. It covered new discoveries made about just how the brain processes information, and how the new discoveries are affecting the treatments of various diseases and paralysis. An easy read but not overly "dummied down".

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