Review From User :
One of the best books on neuroscience I have yet read. A+
Fields takes his reader on a tour of the brain, the glial brain that is. Studies involving glia will do for the field of neuroscience what the study of epigenetics did to the field of genetics. Because of the burst of new findings relating to glial cells, we are currently witnessing a complete paradigm shift, and it's exciting! Being a lover of neuroscience, I really should have read this sooner.
Glia play a large and unexpected role in almost every aspect of brain functioning. Once thought to exist merely to provide physical support for neurons, glia are turning out to have a much more important function in both mental and physical well being. Though new evidence has come to light since 2008 when this was published, it still serves as a timely and progressive look into some of the most interesting aspects of neuroscience.
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.
Expand text… 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.