A fascinating read for non-medical layman and allied health field professionals, this unique book on neuroscience goes beyond discussions on the morphology and physiology of the brain by presenting the central nervous system as what it is: not only a group of neurons and lobes, but an extremely complex, integrated system responsible for an extraordinarily wide scope of functions. "Holistic" in approach, it integrates data from the realms of basic sciences, psychology, psychiatry, and neurology - covering a significant amount of updated subject matter plus material rarely found in standard neuroanatomy and neurophysiology texts - such as drug abuse, nutrition, brain plasticity, dreaming, consciousness, and aggression. Presents a witty, conversational and captivating narrative, interjecting discussions of complex concepts with humor, anecdotes, philosophical discussions and clinical case studies. For professionals in such allied health fields as nursing, social work, psychology, and the rehabilitation disciplines, including physical, occupational, recreational and speech and language therapies.
Reviewer:Laurie Lundy-Ekman, PhD, PT(Pacific University)
Description:This informal, humorous survey of brain function incorporates psychology and neurology information.
Purpose:The purpose is to supplement neuroscience texts with information about topics that the author believes are rarely covered in standard textbooks directed toward allied health students. However, most of the topics the author cites as being rarely found in standard texts, such as brain plasticity and consciousness, are covered in standard texts and other topics, such as dreaming, are not of clinical interest.
Audience:The author states that the intended audience is allied health students and lay readers. Given that most of this book is redundant with those used in these disciplines, it may be better suited to assistants in the allied health professions and/or to lay readers.
Features:Most of the topics -- cellular function, organization of the brain, plasticity, language, neuroendocrinology, and perception -- are covered in contemporary neuroscience texts. Two topics, drug abuse and aggression, are likely to be covered in psychology texts used in professional courses. The unique topics include dreaming and the effects of nutrition on the brain. A nice feature of the book is cartoon illustrations that are memorable, clever, and creative. The neurotransmitter cartoons are particularly well done. A significant liability is the lack of references. I would have liked to follow up on several of the studies mentioned in the text, but there is no way to identify the literature.
Assessment:As a review of topics covered in most neuroscience texts, the book might be a useful adjunct for some students who struggle with the complexity of those topics. A superior supplementary text covering many of the same topics is Matthews' Introduction to Neuroscience (Blackwell Science, 2000), which has concept maps, review questions and answers, and clinical correlations that are more likely to be useful to students in professional programs.