The Neurobiology of Autism
M. L. Bauman and T. L. Kemper (eds)
The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2nd edn., 2005. $95 (hardcover), $45 (paperback), xiii + 404 pp. ISBN 0-8018-8046-7 (hardcover)/0-8018-8047-5 (paperback)
In 27 chapters grouped into four sections (clinical observations, neuroanatomic investigations, genetic initiatives, and neurobiologic research), this book presents a comprehensive overview of all aspects of autism and related disorders. In an undertaking as large as this one, it is not too difficult to find something to quibble about. For instance, I would have liked to see some more discussion of the various animal models that have been proposed for this disorder. Whereas one chapter is devoted to one particular rat model (rats infected neonatally with Borna Disease virus), other models are only mentioned casually in some of the other chapters, which seems a somewhat uneven treatment. It is also unfortunate that there is only one single non-North-American author (from the UK) ignoring all the work done in this field in the rest of the world. Apart from these minor criticisms, however, this book offers an excellent portal to the vast area of autism research.
Neurodevelopment and Schizophrenia
M. Keshavan J Kennedy R. Murray (eds)
Cambridge University Press, 2005. $150, xviii + 488pp. ISBN 0-521-82331-5
As outlined in the Foreword from Michael Rutter, the field of schizophrenia research was for a long time based on the assumption that schizophrenia is an adult-onset disorder, with neurodegenerative changes as its possible biological basis. Only in the last few decades has it been recognized that schizophrenia might be a neurodevelopmental disorder. This book summarizes the evidence leading to this view in an admirable way. In 24 chapters, all aspects of our current knowledge on the biological bases of schizophrenia are reviewed, from possible genetic underpinnings, through other etiological factors, to pathophysiology and clinical implications (such as the possibilities for early recognition and intervention). Despite this emphasis on biological factors, possible social factors as causal agents in schizophrenia are not ignored either. The book provides a well-balanced and comprehensive overview that merits to be read by all students of this fascinating and devastating disorder.
Databasing the Brain. From Data to Knowledge
S.H. Koslow and S. Subramaniam (eds)
John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2005. $135, xiii + 466 pp. ISBN 0-471-30921-4
Neuroinformatics is a budding young discipline, and the two editors of this volume are among the pioneers in this field. Many of the efforts described in this book stem from the Human Brain Project, spearheaded for years by Stephen Koslow. The book provides a welcome overview and update of the rapid developments of the last few years. With only few exceptions, most of the authors of the 26 chapters are from the United States, which is a somewhat unfortunate geographical bias in a book of this scope, although it must be said that this also reflects the enormous growth of this field especially in the United States. The first section of the book deals with basic issues, such as designing adequate databases and the problems involved in visualizing objects and processes. Of interest for readers of G2B will be, in particular, the several chapters dealing with integrating genetic data. These are grouped together in the middle of the book in a section entitled ‘System Approaches’. Finally, the publishers are to be commended on the excellent way the book has been executed, on glossy paper and with liberal use of color in the figures.
Handbook of Stress and the Brain
T. Steckler N. H. Kalin and J. M. H. M. Reul (eds)
Elsevier, 2005. Part 1: The Neurobiology of Stress, $199.95, xviii + 838 pp. ISBN 0-444-51173-3. Part 2: Stress: Integrative and Clinical Aspects, $180, xiii + 470 pp. ISBN 0-444-51823-1
Volume 15 in the series on ‘Techniques in the Behavioral and Neural Sciences’, I expect this enormous work to be the definitive standard work on stress for years to come. In a staggering total of more than 1300 pages, 62 chapters grouped in 10 sections present every imaginable aspect of stress research. In contrast to many other edited volume, this one is a truly international effort. The list of collaborators reads as a veritable ‘Who's Who' in international stress research. It is impossible to do justice to this work here. Suffice it to say that everyone working on stress or stress-related subjects will want to have these volumes within reach of hand. Given the size of these books, the price is certainly not exaggerated.