This encyclopedia provides a reference source for readers who want to closely investigate the most mysterious, complex organ in the human anatomy. Written for lay audiences it looks at the structure, function, diseases, and disorders of the brain.
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The brain is all. It holds the scent of rain on hot tar, the taste of mom's chocolate-chip cookies, the itch on your ankle, and the image of that cottage by the sea. For centuries, though, how the brain actually functioned was one big mystery. Now that scientists are beginning to gain an understanding of where memory resides and how the brain works, Carol Turkington has compiled what's known about the brain in an accessible A-to-Z format, from the abducent nerve, responsible for the eye movements allowing you to read this sentence, to Young Adult Institute and Workshop, an agency that helps people with developmental disabilities or brain damage attain self-sufficiency.
It's a far-ranging and engrossing book. Turkington covers hard science in a straightforward fashion, rendering the medulla and melatonin into clear and readily understandable language, such that you needn't be a brain surgeon to comprehend what part they play in breathing, coughing, and gagging (the medulla) and sleep, jet lag, and manic depression (melatonin). And though there is a glossary in back that tackles industry terms such as axon, infarct, and vesicle, you rarely need to consult it. The Encyclopedia is more, however, than an anatomy text. In addition to articles on the brain's hardware, there are entries for diseases that affect the brain, treatments, and related sciences. For instance, Turkington explains the history of phrenology (the belief that skull structure is related to brain characteristics) and Pick's disease (a kind of dementia nearly indistinguishable from Alzheimer's), and cites Pythagoras as the philosopher who suggested that the brain was the home of man's mind and soul.
There's something for everyone, with up-to-date science on gender differences in the brain; an article on the many types of headaches, with their symptoms, causes, and treatments; plus appendices of self-help, professional, and government organizations dealing with brain diseases, research, and education. Turkington deftly explains the intricacies of the brain in such a way that the only prerequisite to understanding it is an interest in the subject. --Stephanie GoldFrom Booklist:
Although all of the terms found in this volume could be located in most medical dictionaries, the definitions and discussions here are intended for the student and layperson and are much easier to comprehend. The encyclopedia covers terminology associated with the brain and neurology, brain diseases and disorders, brain structure and function, important associations and societies, and key persons associated with brain research. For diseases and disorders, a general discussion is given followed by causes, symptoms, and treatment. There are generous see and see also references. The introduction indicates that there is an "extensive glossary" that explains neurological terms. In checking the glossary, however, only 50 terms are found. A lengthy bibliograpy at the end of the book includes a few citations from 1994, with most prior to that year. It is arranged by author, which is not useful for the reader looking for more information on a specific topic. Brief directories of self-help, professional, and governmental organizations are appended, followed by an index. There are no illustrations and only a few tables. Turkington is the author of other books for Facts On File, including The Encyclopedia of Memory and Memory Disorders (1994).
Although this book includes good information for the nonspecialist, it has some misleading references. In the entry Cellular Phones and Brain Tumors, the phrase brain cancer is shown as a see also reference. However, there is no such entry, but under Cancer, Brain there are references to more than a dozen specific types of brain cancer. Entries appear for National Down Syndrome Congress, Association for Children with Down Syndrome, National Down Syndrome Society, and Parents of Children with Down Syndrome, but nowhere is the syndrome defined. Even with its omissions, however, this will be a useful book for school and public libraries. Academic and medical libraries would be better served with any of the many medical encyclopedic dictionaries or by the two-volume Encyclopedia of Human Intelligence (Macmillan, 1994), The Oxford Companion to the Mind (1987), and The Encyclopedia of Learning and Memory (Macmillan, 1992), which cover some of the same topics.
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