Friday, December 15, 2006

Brain Architecture

This book (published 2003) is a great refresher for anyone interested in learning more about the nervous system. The author, Larry Swanson, picks up from where a zoologist, G.H. Parker, left off in his book from 1919, The Elementary Nervous System. The first three chapters alone are worth the price of the book, discussing behaviors of creatures without nervous systems, like protozoa and sponges, then the very basic building blocks of the nervous system as they manifest in simple creatures like Cnidaria (jellyfish, hydra).

Stepwise and logically, without missing any small but crucial points, we are taken through the historical milestones of Cajal and others over several centuries of research and conclusions, plus recent findings - and that's all in the first 40 pages. The next 40 pages reviews the basic vertebrate plan, and the rest of the book (a mere 241 pages in all) discusses brain function.

The prose is clear, concise, interesting. Highly recommended as a basic overview/review.