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The Other Brain: The Scientific and Medical Breakthroughs That Will Heal Our Brains and Revolutionize Our Health (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 11. Januar 2011

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The Other Brain offers an insightful, complex, and nuanced picture of the most interesting substance on earth: the matter inside our heads.”
—Anthony Doerr, The Boston Globe

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84 von 86 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Destined To Be A Classic 21. Januar 2010
Von James M. Robertson - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
"The Other Brain", written by R. Douglas Fields, Ph.D., is a must read for anyone interested in the scientific basis of higher brain functions. Virtually every educated person knows that brain function is the result of brain cells called neurons. Wrong! Neurons comprise only 10% of brain cells. The majority of other cells in the brain are collectively known as glia. These comprise about 5 distinct groups of brain cells. Research over the past 30 years has shown that these cells are equal partners in cognitive information processing, and may be more important than neurons. In fact, they may actually be directing the networks of neurons that have been considered the basis of intelligence, memory formation and consciousness for over a century.

Additionally, these cells are now considered leading candidates for both the cause and potential treatments of neurological diseases including Alzheimers, Parkinsons, Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder, ALS, multiple sclerosis and chronic pain. The use of glia as stem cells in treatment of these conditions, as well as strokes and brain tumors, is currently a hot topic of research. Dr. Fields, Chief of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, is preeminently qualified to write about this topic. His life-long research on glia has provided important clues that may eventually lead to treatment or cures for paralysis resulting from spinal cord trauma.

Fields is a consummate storyteller, and has been referred to as "our neural Jacques Cousteau" because of his ability to transform such a difficult subject into an enjoyable and accessible writing style. Most notable is his intermix of vignettes of the life of men who have worked with glia within the body of the text. This includes some of the most exotic and eccentric characters imaginable.

Particularly enjoyable was the brilliant explorer and scientific polyglot Fridtjof Nansen who first proposed in the nineteenth century that glia were involved in higher cognitive functions. He also mapped ocean currents and received the Nobel Peace Prize. Also notable is the driven and hyper-focused pediatrician Carleton Gajdusek who left a comfortable life in research on infantile paralysis to impulsively travel to New Guinea to live with cannibals for several years to study kuru (similar to Mad Cow Disease). He may be the only Nobel Laureate in Medicine to serve time in prison after receiving this prestigious award. Ichiji Tasaki was given laboratory space at the National Institutes of Health until his recent death at the age of 100. He initially built his own equiptment by hand because his research had outpaced the available technology. The significance of his lifelong research continues to influence gliobiologist to this day.

I have read most of the popular text on brain function written by Nobel Laureates, prominent neuroscientists, philosophers, linguist and "science writers". None can match "The Other Brain" as far as thoroughness of scientific facts and ease or reading. It is a real "page turner". It is the only book on brain function that I could not put down until completed. Until you read this remarkable book about glia, "the other half of the brain", your knowledge of brain function is far from complete.
27 von 28 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
a journey into an intercellular wonderland 15. Februar 2010
Von Haseeb - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
I throughly enjoy reading and studying all of the articles written by the author of this book in Scientific American and other publications. His fascinating articles in Scientific American on glial cells and white matter is was compelled me to read this outstanding book. I was sad when I finished the book, wanting to learn more hoping that there was at least one more chapter left.

After reading and studying this book, I am more easily able to read, understand and appreciate articles about glial cells in heavier publications like Science. This is not a particularly easy read, but accessible to anyone willing to put a lot of thought into the material which brings me to another point. I wish the author would have incorporated more figures and diagrams into the text instead of just splatting a number of photos and diagrams into the center of the book. All of the diagrams are explained very well, but I would have liked to have seen them more closely tied into the text instead of having to turn the pages back and forth. Many of the pictures he has are taken from Science and Scientific American magazine. Figure 26 (the electron microscope picture) for example is also used in Vol. 298 October 2002 of Science. The other diagram used in the same article in Science is curiously missing from this book. If he would have included that cartoon-like diagram shown in the Science article, it would have done a great deal of good in explaining things like gap junctions, calcium waves, glutamate uptake and release and glial communication using ATP and other molecules. That diagram would have been perfect in the part where he started explaining what astrocyes do. Still, this doesn't take anything away from the book. I'm looking forward to whatever articles or books the author writes in the future on this fascinating subject!
16 von 16 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Stunning 21. Februar 2010
Von P. Anderson - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
From the history of Einstein's stolen brain to the very end I was thrilled. Not only is this exciting storytelling but it is a fast paced narrative about the incredible discoveries made about the human brain just in the last decade...discoveries that change everything. And the people involved are just as excited including Dr. Fields. He not only tells amazing scientific advances in real terms, he helps the novice follow along. I am a 60 year old retired grocery store manager and even I got there is a testimonial! Among the "stunning" I was most amazed to discover that the human brain is completed back to front and is not finished for approx two decades after birth. Can we say teenagers! All other mammals are born with completed brains and not allowed the opportunity to let their environment influence brain development. As Dr. Fields says, "We are allowed to cheat in evolution's battle for food and reproduction. Buy this one!
9 von 9 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Informative but unfocused, lacking in conclusions 8. Oktober 2012
Von Chelsea Thompson - Veröffentlicht auf
Verifizierter Kauf
The Other Brain: From Dementia to Schizophrenia, How New Discoveries about the Brain Are Revolutionizing Medicine and Science by R. Douglas Fields, Ph. D., is a comprehensive look at the current research, theories, and potential surrounding glial cells in the nervous system at the date of publication (2009). Although the analogies are often disconnected and tend to vastly overshadow the amount of (sometimes poorly organized) presented scientific content, as a whole the book provided enough information to grasp the big picture of the fields involved in the study of glial cells and acted as a very good starting ground to research certain topics on my own.

The book was divided into three parts: "Discovering the Other Brain", which introduced the anatomy and physiology of the nervous system, as well as how the brain is studied by scientists; "Glia in Health and Disease", which explored many ways in which the "other brain" might affect a wide variety of neurological disorders, in some ways more than the extensively-studied neurons; and "Glia in Thought and Memory", which mentioned possible roles of glia in structures of the brain related to memory and sleep.

"Discovering the Other Brain"

I am giving this book an overall review of 3 out of 5 stars because, while incredibly informative about the potential for glial cells, the presentation of this information seemed broken and like concepts were separated by entire topics, especially in the beginning of the book, which described the basic anatomy and physiology of glial cells. The introduction of astrocytes, for example, was interrupted twice in a continuing discussion of Schwann cells and microglia. Many analogies used in the first section, although easy to conceptualize, would often seem to come out of nowhere, and more often than not would have nothing to do with one another.

This section and the last section encompass no more than 20% of the book, despite introducing anecdotes that are almost forced throughout the book, especially the long-winded anecdote about Albert Einstein's brain fragments. I found that having previous exposure to the concepts described greatly helped in navigating the laundry list of analogies, none related, for these explanations. For those without a background in neuroanatomy, otherwise known as the target audience for the book, I recommend liberal use of the glossary in the back of the book, which cuts out the jungle of analogies and presents the topics in a very technical fashion, even if said glossary is very redundant for its small size (only ten pages). While the glossary is very technical, which has been stated in previous reviews for this book, it can prove useful in conjunction with the myriad of analogies presented in the text.

It is still possible to understand the thesis of the book without being an expert in glia, but you will get more out of the premise and potential research later described if you have a good grasp on what these first 60 pages try to describe. A few research methods are mentioned in this section in order to encourage an appreciation for the field. However, the descriptions are structured in such a way that someone without background knowledge of various analytical methods could be easily overwhelmed by the processes involved.

"Glia in Health and Disease"

This section is the entire point and purpose of the book: how glia can and should be implicated in a variety of diseases of the nervous system, and how glia might provide a means to cure many of these diseases (from dementia to schizophrenia, as the title indicates). Or, at least, the nearly 200-page section describes how far research has come in the implications of glia in various nervous system ailments. With the almost offended assertion that these cells have been vastly overlooked throughout history, it's no surprise that almost every subsection, every ailment touched upon, concludes with some re-wording of the statement, "Further research in glia could provide more answers to the nature of this disease."

Interestingly enough, this section (and its subsections) read like it could have stood alone as its own publication, or publications. Concepts established in the second chapter, like the definition of a synapse, were re-described in chapter 11, although without the vivid oceanfront analogy. The technical jargon in this section did not seem to impede understanding of the broad concepts being described, but many of the analogies were still jarringly disconnected from any theme, although the number of analogies and anecdotes decreases as the book progresses.

Effects of non-glial cells on the diseases described are only mentioned to the extent that they have relation to the glia. There is little mention of neurons without an accompanying discussion on the myelin protecting them; white blood cells are never mentioned unless they are contrasted against microglia; astrocytes are redefined almost every time they are mentioned. In a book entirely about glia, this is not unexpected, but when the same argument is presented in slightly varied ways over the span of 200 pages, it tends to wear the reader down. Although informative, and although I now have a decent basis for where to begin outside research on the subject, I do not recommend tackling this section in one sitting without a mountain of patience, especially if you have any rapt interest in the disorders being discussed, as they are usually only briefly touched on (through no fault of the author, just for the fact that, as the thesis of the book alludes, glia are often overlooked in neurological research).

"Glia in Thought and Memory"

The last section, about the same length as the first section, describes glia in the midbrain, especially in the hippocampus, thalamus, and hypothalamus, and continuously refers back to the finding that astrocytes migrate within these areas, even though this property of astrocytes has been referenced multiple times in the preceding 250 pages. This section is as scattered in organization as the first, with each chapter touching on another random finding from these aforementioned areas. One sentence, "If neurons are telephones connected through hardwired lines of communication, astrocytes are cell phones, broadcasting their signals widely," appears in the first and last section without much explanation as to why other than the use of neurotransmitters.
Each section continues the trend of isolated subcategories that seem only tangentially related and which find the need to re-explain what the essential anatomy and physiology of glia and related structures are. The same questions that were elaborated on in previous sections in reference to separate topics are presented as new ideas, and the tone seems to mock the reader's apparent ignorance more in this section than in any other, which is impressive considering how condescending it was in the first section.

Overall, the book compiled interesting anecdotes and research about the potential of future studies in glia, and despite being repetitive and unorganized, would be a good read for anyone interested in looking for a place to start looking into the prospects of glia in a handful of neurological disorders. For the average reader, however, the book does not provide straight answers to the questions it poses. Research in glia is still lacking, and as such, many of the ideas presented as possible solutions are not proven. This is not a book to base a diagnosis or any other opinion about these disorders off of.
6 von 6 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
A REMARKABLE BOOK! 25. Januar 2010
Von saltblock - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
This is an outstanding book! Written by an internationally recognized authority with an impressive background in Neuroscience, Dr. Fields cleverly holds us spellbound with interest as he takes the reader through a remarkable story of "Glia" cells that science has largely overlooked till recently.

The book reads like a novel that pulls you onward, wondering what is next and gives us hope for new science that may save us in the future from diseases we cannot conquer at present.

I agree with previous comments from other readers who also gave this book five stars. You owe it to yourself to read and enjoy this book.
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