Despite everything that has been written about the brain, a very important part of this vital organ has been overlooked in most books - until now. The Other Brain is the story of glia, which make up approximately 85 percent of the cells in the brain. Long neglected as little more than cerebral packing material ("glia" means glue), glia are sparking a revolution in brain science.
Glia are completely different from neurons, the brain cells that we are familiar with. Scientists are discovering that glia have their own communication network, which operates in parallel to the more familiar communication among neurons. Glia provide the insulation for the neurons, and glia even regulate the flow of information between neurons.
But it is the potential breakthroughs for medical science that are the most exciting frontier in glia research today. Diseases such as brain cancer and multiple sclerosis are caused by diseased glia. Glia are now believed to play an important role in such psychiatric illnesses as schizophrenia and depression, and in neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. They are linked to infectious diseases such as HIV and prion disease (mad cow disease, for example) and to chronic pain. Scientists have discovered that glia repair the brain and spinal cord after injury and stroke. 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 the research to reveal the secrets of these brain cells, The Other Brain offers a firsthand account of science in action. It takes us into the laboratories where important discoveries are being made, and it explains how scientists are learning that glial cells come in different types, with different capabilities. It tells the story of glia research from its origins to the most recent discoveries and gives readers a much more complete understanding of how the brain works and where the next breakthroughs in brain science and medicine are likely to come.
BONUS AUDIO: Includes an introduction written and read by the author, R. Douglas Fields.
©2010 R. Douglas Fields (P)2010 Audible, Inc.
"In 16 absorbing and accessible chapters, Fields gives life to a potentially dry medical topic by eavesdropping on the work of other neuroscientists, past and present, and shows how penetrating glia's secrets offers hope for breakthroughs in healing Alzheimer’s, brain tumors, and even spinal cord injuries. Highly recommended, especially to science lovers and medical professionals." (Booklist)
College English professor who loves classic literature, psychology, neurology and hates pop trash like Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey.
will help, but for the most part, this book is written in a very engaging and interesting fashion, which, I believe, will appeal even to the layman or someone who has only read a book or two in this field. One might not believe that a book about glial cells in the brain could make for an interesting read, but further discovery about their role in brain function--indeed, the discovery that they HAVE a role in brain function--is an exciting one, bound to shed more light on how the brain does its incredibly complex job--and how better to heal it when it is damaged or diseased. Be patient. Stay with this one. It is well worth it.
It reads like an adventure story, it leaves you in awe of the workings of the brain. It describes processes in an easy to understand gradual manner and then explains the applications. I couldn't recommend this more to both professionals and lay people alike.
Great book in that it covers a topic to which most people have very little exposure. It is always interesting to hear more about the people and events behind scientific research that do not make it into journal publications or the mainstream news. It was very exciting to hear about what the leaders in this field of study are doing and how they got to that place in their career. I talked a friend who does not have a background in biological research into listening to this book and will encourage him to let me know what he thinks of it and submit a review since, based on one of the other reviews here, it might be too technical for some people to enjoy. The only thing that I did not like was that the narrator pronounced some very commonly used terms in ways that I have never heard them pronounced, which became tiresome for such a long audio book. I recommend this book to anyone interested in neurobiological research.
I should start by conveying that I have encountered the basics of the brain -- neurons (and their components, both internal and external), neurotransmitters, and common neurological diseases -- on numerous occasions. However, I had only come across the most basic explanations of what glial cells (neuroglia) were for; and some questions about long-term potentiation and its catalysts remained unclear.
I had long pondered how signal paths being strengthened by mere traffic-load could possibly lead to worthwhile consolidation of experiences. Moreover, it always occurred to me that simply amplifying an active signal pathway could all-too-easily promote destructive feedback conditions. Thus, an out-of-band oversight seems most appropriate, and glia may be an important key to this puzzle.
There are many other topics of new covered herein; thus I could not possibly discuss in this review all that I found interesting in this book; but in general, I found this audiobook most enlightening upon those topics too commonly overlooked when the brain is introductorily explained. In fact, failing to witness the breadth of additional knowledge and speculation of current times may be utter folly for anyone seeking intracranial literacy; and of this writing, in Jan 2012, The Other Brain seems a magnificent initiation.
I congratulate the authors, editors, and other contributors of this text (and audiobook) for unleashing such a sea of wonder.
About the recording: The narration was clear and easy-to-understand. The added emotion and expressionism helped to maintain my attention.
Great Book. This is the third book narrated by Victor Bevine, that I have listened to. His voice is very pleasant and I am surprised that I don't enjoy listening to him as much as I would expect. Something about the way he narrates makes listening a tad tedious. He should try to make his narration a bit more lively and conversational. This is a great book and I would strongly recommend it to anyone else interested in the human brain.
50yrs old / audible member for 5 yrs library. 75% nonfiction, 15% classics and 10% fiction. History/Science/biography/Eng.18th cent fiction
This is more of a revelation than a book- for what stunning discoveries it conveys makes its medium or presentation moot ( at least to me). If you're interested in brain science-brace yourself!
in fact If you have interests regarding anything in human biology this is a must read!
Imagine .......In all these years of brain research they have missed half the brain! That is basically what has in fact happened. The gliel cells which make up a very large portion of the cells in the brain have till now been thought of as little more than a glue or some kind of .Innocuous support material -when in fact they are essential heavy lifters or V.I.C's (very important cells) in the aw inspiring workings of the human brain. This is a HUGE revelation!!
As for the book itself- I found it well written and exciting BUT make no mistake, when things get technical this book will require ALL of your eye squinting attention. If you have in fact done your part in giving the teck parts your undivided attention, you will be rewarded with enough facinating jaw dropping explanations to send all facets of your gray matter into contorted orgasm. Ive yet to see the print edition so I dont know what it has in terms of illustration but if a book ever needed illustration its this one. In my excitement I naturaly hit utube and google to see what I could "see" I found that The author did do some kind of ted related presentation but it was an excersise in utter frustration! The video guy missed most of the animations/illustrations on the screen. Im frankly surprised and dissapointed that such a poor presentation would make it onto ted-talks.
Well the future of brain research has certainly and suddenly just lurched forward with a monty python sized step and the cures for many of our worst physical and mental maladies seem much closer to eradication.
On a personal note this is of great importance to myself as I suffer from chronic pain and as mentioned in the book, this is one of the maladies that can be directly attributed to gliel cells and this very research
Although very scientifically written it is done so in a way that may engage the average, non-science oriented reader as well. It uses a range of interesting real life stories and examples to capture the listeners attention.
An interesting account on the role of glial cells in the functionaning of the brain and the nervous system.
The information in this book is terribly exciting to me. I did think neurons were the key to it all, but now I see how scientists can be blindsided by science that seems more exciting.
Theory Drive 101 is like this book, except arguing a completely different stance.
R. Douglas Fields is a good speaker--he could have narrated this entire book.
It's worth a listen if you are interested in the role of glia in the brain, but it takes some stomach to get past the overly florid prose. Fields also takes too many overly LONG diversions into historical events such as the search for the cause of kuru and past treatment of mental health disorders. Unfortunately these diversions just seem like filler, and detract from the meat of the information presented.
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