ALPHABETICAL BRAIN™ VOCABULARY
HUMANIST GALAXY OF
SECULAR BRAIN SCIENCE STARS

February 22, 2020

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UNDERSTANDING THE BRAIN:
From Cells to Behavior to Cognition
by John E. Dowling.
W. W. Norton, 1998, 2018 rev. ed,
(256 pages)


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BOOK OUTLINE
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PREFACE (xi-xv)

PART 1 CELLULAR NEUROBIOLOGY: The nuts and bolts (xiv-85)

1) THE UNIQUENESS OF THE BRAIN (1-23))

[1] Cells of the Brain: Neurons and Glia

[2] How Special Are Neurons?

[3] Brain Organization

[4] Development of the Brain

2) BRAIN SIGNALS (24-47)

[1] Electricity and the Brain

[2] Cell Resting Potentials

[3] Neuronal Signaling

[4] Transmission Down Axons

[5] Synapses

[6] Synaptic Mechanisms

[7] Vulnerability of Synapses

[8] A Synaptic Disease: Myasthenia Gravis

3) NEUROMODULATION, DRUGS, AND THE BRAIN (48-66)

[1] Neurotransmitters and Neuromodulators

[2] Classifying Synaptic Substances

[3] Dopamine, Parkinson's Disease, and Schizophrenia

[4] Serotonin and Depression

[5] Neuropeptides: The Enkephalins-Endogenous Opiates

4) SENSING THE WORLD (67-85)

[1] Mechanoreceptors: Touch and Hearing

[2] Adaptation

[3] Hair Cells and Audition

[4] Second-Messenger Receptors: Olfactory and Visual

[5] Discrimination of Odors

[6] Vision

[7] Phototransduction

PART 2 SYSTEMS NEUROSCIENCE: Getting at Behaviors (87-149)

5) SIMPLER NERVOUS SYSTEMS The Invertebrates (89-111)

[1] Electrical Signaling and the Squid Giant Axon

[2] Mach Bands and the Horseshoe Crab Eye

[3] Learning, Memory, and a Sea Snail

[4] Circadian Rhythms, Behavioral Genetics, and Flies

6) VERTEBRATE BRAINS (112-130)

[1] The Central Nervous System

[2] Spinal Cord

[3] The Brain

[4] Medulla and Pons

[5] Hypothalamus

[6] Cerebellum

[7] Thalamus

[8] Basal Ganglia

[9] Cerebral Cortex

7) VISION Window to the Brain (131-149)

[1] Early Processing of Visual Information: The Retina

[2 ]Next Stages of Visual Processing: The Primary Visual Cortex

[3] Formation of Cortical Receptive Fields

[4] Seeing Depth: Binocular Interactions

[5] Cortical Organization: The Hypercolumn

PART 3 COGNITIVE SCIENCE: Higher Brain Function and Mind (151-167))

8) FROM BRAIN TO MIND Visual Perception (153-170)

[1] Area V2 and Higher Visual Areas

[2] Face Recognition

[3] Overview of Visual Processing

[4] Visual Perception

[5] Modulation of Cortical Responses

9) THE DYNAMIC BRAIN Development and Plasticity (171-192)

[1] Migration and Differentiation of Neurons

[2] How Do Axons Find Their Way?

[3] The Maturing Brain

[4] Visual System Development and Deprivation

[5] Plasticity of the Adult Cortex

10) LANGUAGE AND BRAIN IMAGING (193-215)

[1] Learning Language

[2] Birdsong

[3] Language Areas in Humans

[4] Exploring the Human Brain

[5] Brain Imaging

11) REMEMBERING THINGS Learning and Memory (216-233)

[1] Synaptic Mechanisms Underlying LTP

[2] Long-Term LTP

[3] LTP and Memory

[4] Short-Term Memory

[5] Working Memory

[6] Accuracy of Memories

12) THE EMOTIONAL BRAIN Rationality (234-252)

[1] The Amygdala

[2] Hypothalamus

[3] The Autonomic Nervous System

[4] Reinforcing Behaviors

[5] Orbitofrontal Cortex

[6] Rationality

13) CONSCIOUSNESS (253-267)

[1] Sleep (255-256)

[2] Dreaming (257)

[3] Control of Sleep and Arousal (258-259)

[4] Consciousness and Awareness (259-264)

[5] The Future (264-265)

[6] Artificial Intelligence (265-267)

GLOSSARY (269-282)

FURTHER READING (283-284)

INDEX (285-298)

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AUTHOR NOTES, SUMMARY,
AND BOOK DESCRIPTION

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AUTHOR NOTES = John E. Dowling is professor emeritus at Harvard University, and has done extensive research into the neurobiology of vision. He lives in Boston, Massachusetts.

SUMMARY = No reader curious about our "little grey cells" will want to pass up Harvard neuroscientist John E. Dowling's brief introduction to the brain. In this up-to-date revision of his 1998 book Creating Mind, Dowling conveys the essence and vitality of the field of neuroscience. This "examination of the brain" elegantly reveals the beauty of the organ that makes us uniquely human.

BOOK DESCRIPTION = Dowling examines the progress we have made in understanding how human brains work, and sheds light on discoveries having to do with aging, mental illness, and brain health. The first half of the book provides the nuts-and-bolts necessary for an up-to-date understanding of the brain. It covers the general organization of the brain, with early chapters explaining how cells communicate with one another to enable us to experience the world. The last half of the book touches on higher-level concepts such as vision, perception, language, memory, emotion, and consciousness. The book is beautifully illustrated and lucidly written.

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BOOK REVIEWS
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LIBRARY JOURNAL REVIEW = How do brain cells receive, process, and transmit information? Dowling (emeritus, Harvard Univ.; Neurons and Networks; The Retina) provides the answer in this comprehensive introduction to the brain and neuroscience, expanding and updating 1999's Creating Mind: How the Brain Works. The fundamentals of brain function, such as how it's organized and grows, how neurons work, and a basic explanation of sensory receptor systems are covered in the book's first part.

The second section explores the brains of various invertebrates in order to elucidate neural function in humans. The parts of the vertebrate brain and their function-think cerebellum and thalamus-are also explained. Dowling's area of research is vision, and as such, there is a more in-depth exploration of vision and visual perception. Later, Dowling considers higher brain function, specifically language, memory, learning, emotion, motivation, and consciousness. VERDICT This accessible, informative, and thorough treatise on brain function is recommended for students and general readers wishing to understand this vital organ. Ragan O'Malley, Saint Ann's Sch., Brooklyn

BOOK LIST REVIEW = How different are human brains from those of other mammals? What traits do we have in common with squid or horseshoe crabs? In this twenty-first-century continuation and updating of his lauded Creating Mind (1998), Harvard neuroscientist Dowling delves into the mysteries of the human brain, starting at the cellular level and building to ever-greater understandings of consciousness and the mind.

Dowling treats readers to a thorough analysis of the latest science explaining our senses, behavior, and cognition, posing anew the age-old question of how our brains differ from those of other vertebrates and invertebrates and what makes us human. Dowling succeeds in creating a readable and enjoyable high-level narrative free of academic jargon and tone. Filled with figures and drawings to accompany the detailed and complex text, this is an excellent introduction to the brain for science-loving readers, especially those interested in biology and neuroscience. Patricia Smith

CHOICE REVIEW = Dowling (Harvard) has written an accessible introduction to neuroscience. The topics covered are those that would typically be included in an undergraduate course for students beginning their study of neuroscience. Dowling clearly and succinctly describes the key concepts underlying cellular systems and cognitive neuroscience.

The book would function well as an overview for anyone interested in taking a glimpse at what neuroscience is all about. Unfortunately, while there is a brief "further reading" section, no references or footnotes are included, greatly limiting the book's usefulness as it will be difficult for novices to follow up on the ideas introduced. The book also contains some statements that are potentially misleading. For example, when discussing inhibitory synapses (p. 39), the text implies that all inhibitory synaptic responses are caused by the influx of chloride ions. Although this is the most common ionic mechanism, it is not the only one.

Such oversimplifications are not serious enough to detract from the main goal of the book, which is to acquaint readers to this relatively new and rapidly growing science. However, since references are not provided, the book should not be regarded as an authoritative source for the details presented. Summing Up: Recommended. With the caveat above. Beginning undergraduates and general readers. Clark Allen Lindgren, Grinnell College

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