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Book Reviews and Other Media
November 2002

The Newborn Brain: Neuroscience and Clinical Applications

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2002;156(11):1158-1159. doi:

This wonderful book, which presents the state of the art on how the brain is formed, can be loosely divided into 4 sections. The first section addresses the major events in brain development: neural induction, neurogenesis, neuronal migration, synaptogenesis, the role of neurotrophic factors in development, neurotransmitters and neuromodulators, and glial cell biology. "Molecular Mechanisms for Organising the Developing Central Nervous System" clearly describes the molecular determinants of neurulation and patterning in the central nervous system. The authors very nicely associate mutations in the genes that regulate some of these basic molecular mechanisms with their pathological disease states in humans (eg, mutations in sonic hedgehog with holoprosencephaly). This is followed by an interesting discussion of neuronal migration, which seamlessly links complex molecular mechanisms with human disorders of neuronal migration. The discussion of the effects of neurotransmitters and growth factors is timely because our ability to pharmacologically modulate these systems is increasing. The final chapter of this section, "Glial Cell Biology," concentrates on the nutritional and homeostatic functions of astrocytes. In light of the increasing recognition that glial cells do more than mechanically support neurons, this chapter nicely highlights the complex and dynamic relationship that neurons and glia share.

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