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Brain

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | Brain.pdf | Language: ENGLISH
    Richard M. Restak(Author)

    Book details


This lavishly illustrated companion to the PBS series examines the structure, functions, and mysteries of the human brain, addressing such specifics as consciousness, perception, the subconscious, learning, memory, and brain disorders

3.3 (6131)
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*An electronic version of a printed book that can be read on a computer or handheld device designed specifically for this purpose.

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Supported Devices Windows PC/PocketPC, Mac OS, Linux OS, Apple iPhone/iPod Touch.
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Printable? Yes

Book details

  • PDF | Unknown pages
  • Richard M. Restak(Author)
  • Bantam Books (October 1984)
  • English
  • 6
  • Medical Books

Read online or download a free book: Brain

 

Review Text

  • By Jesse D. Shearin on September 27, 2009

    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 MovementRestak 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 close-up look at how vision and movement work together to allow an uninterrupted view of the world. Because of the amount of information coming to the brain from the body about the world, the brain must decide which signals to acknowledge and which to ignore. This book poses convincing theories on how the brain does this. The importance of this synergistic decision making process involving multiple sensing modalities is shown in the medical cases explored in the work. Interventions and treatments for neuronal disorders are discussed, but lack any ethical argument. The author simply states that some people think it is unethical to change the brain artificially, but does not mention how intervention can be viewed as unethical.Rhythms and DrivesRestak explores cyclic nature of the functions and activities carried on in the brain and body. He invokes examples from natureto substantiate his claims. Further, experiments are presented that test how varying these cycles affect the body, particularly in jet lag. The effect of our modern industrialized and urbanize life style is discussed thoughtfully with physiologic data to support the claims. The book then pivots around the hypothalamus to discuss stress and emotion.Stress and EmotionMany urges such as violence and feelings are regulated in the brain. The author includes several scenarios concerned with showing how the hypothalamus is involved on a physiologic level. Stress and emotion have physiologic manifestations. Pain is treated deftly, and the book offers a clear conceptualization of the pain event.Learning and MemoryLearning methods are discussed alongside curious stories of people with highly functioning memories. Anatomical description of the nerves heading to the hippocampus and amygdale suggest they affect memory, but do not as accurately as current research. I would have liked to see how brain cells change when they learn.MadnessWhen the brain malfunctions or does not process information correctly, mental illness can result. The author discusses schizophrenia in exhausting detail, allowing the reader a glimpse into the life of a schizophrenic individual. Other disorders are glossed over.This book is a phenomenal tool to understanding the brain because it painstaking covers most brain functions. However many of the ideas proposed in this book have been amended or replaced. Innovations in real-time, minimally invasive imaging technologies since the book's publication have allowed closer looks at the ever-changing brain. The author leads readers away from localizationism and covertly steers them towards brain plasticity. The brain as a plastic, malleable organ explains many of the odd examples contained in this book, specifically sensory substitution. Another experiment covered in the book that hints at brain plasticity involves a girl who wore lenses to invert the light heading into the eye, making the world appear (visually) upside down. After some time her brain learned how to function normally with the inverted input. Readers interested in catching up on current thinking on the brain plasticity can do so by watching the subsequent PBS series: The Brain Fitness Program and reading The Brain that Changes Itself by Norman Doidge (Viking, 2007).

  • By John S. Pieri on January 9, 2010

    A basic primer on the brain,and since this was published, we have grown expoentially in more discoveries about the brain and psychiatric disorders.


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