The Brain, a great resource for understanding the human brain.
Published by Thriftbooks.com User , 12 years ago
The Brain, a book by Richard Restak, M.D., is based upon a PBS Television series of the same name. It gives thorough descriptions of brain structure with vivid analogies that allow lay persons to easily visualize and relate to the brain. For example, it begins with the motif of sailing through the cerebral spinal fluid, a virtual journey used to explain the anatomy of the cerebral cortex. The book contains a detailed history of neuroscience from the time of Aristotle to the beginning of the 1980's. It tracks how technology drives our ever-changing picture of the brain. It acknowledges the benefit of war (and other injuries) to brain science. The theory of localization arose from studying the behavior of post war vets and the functions lost as a result of brain trauma. While localization explained a few behaviors, it cast the brain as a computer, hardwired and unchanging. The author realizes that partitioning of brain space is necessary for neuroscientists because the brain is too complicated to study all at once, yet points out that these partitions are often interrelated in different tasks. The reader will find multiple accurately labeled diagrams, and where possible, photographs or other imaging pictures to show the anatomy of the involved portion of the brain for certain tasks. The discussions refer to a large volume of case studies and biological studies, showing both sides of an issue fairly and allowing the reader to judge. Importantly, it lists some of the unanswered questions raised by research. The book is partitioned into sections on overall brain anatomy, vision and movement, rhythms and drives, stress and emotion, learning and memory, and madnesss. The Brain lays down the basics of the brain, including neuronal signaling events, neuronal growth, and development from fertilization to adulthood and builds on these concepts to piece together the human brain. Restak takes on each sensory input to the brain separately, beginning with vision. Vision and Movement Restak breaks vision into many manageable subsets and explains not only what occurs in each subset, but also how each piece works with the others to create a synergistic sensation. He downplays localizationism by including sections on sensory replacement. He begins this by relating the story of a blind professor that uses an array of vibrating pins set against his back to send visual information to his brain through a somatosensory pathway. This experiment and many others suggest that a given cortex of the brain associated with a certain `sense' is capable of processing multiple types of sensory information. Tactile determination of the environment allows blind persons to construct a map of the world in their brain just as easily as one can tell the size difference between a quarter and a nickel. Because the book was published in the mid 1980's, it does not cover the progression of our picture of the brain. The author treats movement with as much care as vision. He takes a c
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