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September 23, 1988

Brain Systems, Disorders and Psychotropic Drugs

Author Affiliations

The Johns Hopkins Hospital Baltimore

The Johns Hopkins Hospital Baltimore

JAMA. 1988;260(12):1795. doi:10.1001/jama.1988.03410120141053

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This book is described by its author as an "attempt to show how various brain systems function together to produce integrated behavioral responses.... " Although the volume contains much useful information, it neither achieves the author's ambitious goal nor provides sufficient critical illumination to warrant an enthusiastic endorsement.

The author's plan as reflected in the title was to describe (1) "normal brain systems," (2) the dysfunctions inherent in various neuropsychiatric disorders, and (3) the effects of psychotropic drugs on both the disorders and "normal systems." The organizational plan works well enough for the first two of the book's five sections, "Arousal and Sleep" and "Reward and Punishment." The third section on learning and memory is well organized, but the "Drugs and Memory" chapter is disappointing. There is little benefit in learning about "drugs for forgetting" (no pun intended), and none of the "drugs for improving memory" produce substantial benefit in memory-disordered