In this third edition of a text on the molecular biology of the brain, Smith (vision sciences, Aston University, UK) has added new material on advances in the field since 1996, in areas such as genomics, ion channels, neural stem cells, and Alzheimer's disease. There is a greater emphasis throughout on the molecular bases of disease, and updated information on neuropharmacology. Coverage encompasses information processing in cells, molecular evolution, ligand-gated ion channels, the postsynaptic cell, and epigenetics of the brain. Annotation ©2003 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR
This is an introductory course to molecular aspects of neurobiology written in the format of a textbook. It can also be used as a comprehensive introductory course for anyone who is interested in the field of neurobiology or as a reference book. The first six chapters outline the basics of molecular biology and genetics, brain anatomy, and membrane biophysics and could be skipped by a reader who did well in high school and first one or two years of college. The next 10 chapters describe molecular aspects of more specific neurobiological phenomena, such as ion channels and pumps, receptors, conduction neurotransmitters, and complicated processes of secretion and synaptic transmissions. The last four chapters discuss neurobiological issues at the next level of complexity: genetics of brain, mechanisms of memory, and molecular mechanisms of several major pathologies. The potential audience for the book is primarily college students; however, students at other levels, from high school up to graduate school, will appreciate it, as will advanced researchers. The book is richly illustrated by well designed and selected black-and-white schemes, drawings, and photographs. It has several appendixes, including useful basic data about neurons and lists of numerous confusing abbreviations used in neuroscience; a glossary; and a very convenient list of references that is subdivided according to chapters. The book would probably be somewhat more focused without descriptions of DNA structure and PCR that can be found elsewhere. It has its omissions; for instance, drug abuse might be discussed in the chapter on pathology. Nevertheless, it is very well written and organized and deserves a place amongthe best introductory courses in neurosciences.