Why does the world need another neuroscience text? Students study neuroscience for a variety of purposes that range from molecular basic science, to systems, to clinical. Although there are many neuroscience texts that cover some of these areas well, few attempt to cover the entire range. Moreover, texts that attempt to cover such a broad range of neuroscience content are often too large to be tractable, or differentiate poorly between basic science and clinical sections.
Essentials of Modern Neuroscience has been written for students in the medical and other health professions with the goal of being accessible, coherently organized, and universal in its coverage of basic science and clinical neuroscience. It is thus divided into two main parts, the first being a thorough treatment of the basic science of the anatomy and function of the nervous system, and the second comprising an extended treatment of nervous system disorders and therapeutics.
Part I, Anatomy & Function of the Nervous System, was written with two goals: (1) It stands alone as a concise introductory text for neuroscience, and could be used as such, and (2) its organization allows it to be used as a good reference for the clinical sections when basic science background is needed. Section I gives a systematic explanation of the layout of the central and peripheral nervous systems, concentrating on their role in nervous system function. Section II then covers modern molecular neuroscience, starting with a complete treatment of the cellular biophysics underlying the resting and action potentials, then covering synaptic transmission, neurotransmitter systems, and synaptic plasticity. Section III, Systems Neuroscience: Sensory & Motor Systems, considers all the sensory systems from transduction to central processing. It then moves to motor systems, covering the pyramidal and extrapyramidal cortical-spinal pathways, and then the autonomic and enteric nervous systems. Section IV is Cognitive Neuroscience, investigating the neural basis of consciousness, learning and memory, language, emotion, and circadian rhythms.
Part II, Nervous System Disorders & Therapeutics, introduces students to the major disorders of the nervous system and commonly used therapeutics, building on the foundation laid down in Part I, and is organized by clinical specialty. Section V is comprised of 12 chapters surveying disorders treated by neurologists and neurosurgeons. Section VI covers otological, vestibular, and ophthalmological disorders. Finally, Section VII covers the world of psychiatric disorders with seven chapters ranging from thought and mood disorders to addiction and functional disorders. Written by clinicians, the chapters of Part II are intended to prepare students for initial clinical encounters in each of these specialty areas. Each chapter begins with a description of disease prevalence and burden to help students understand which disorders they are most likely to encounter and which have the biggest impact. Discussions of the diagnosis, key features, and treatment of these disorders are aimed at preparing students for board-type examinations. Case studies help consolidate the presentation of classic diseases.
F.R.A. would like to thank Prof. Karlene Ball, chair of the UAB Psychology Dept. while the book was being written, who supported F.R.A.'s academic efforts.