padBrave New Brain  Conquering Mental Illness in   the Era of the Genome

by Nancy C. Andreasen

Nancy Andreasen, a leading neuroscientist who is Editor-in-Chief of the prestigious AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PSYCHIATRY and recipient of the illustrious National Medal of Science, offers here a state-of-the-art look at what we know about the human brain and the human genome?and shows how these two vast branches of knowledge are coming together in a boldly ambitious effort to conquer mental illness.

Scientists today know more about the brain than ever before, thanks to new imaging techniques and to discoveries in neuroscience and molecular biology. Andreasen gives us an engaging and readable description of how it all works, from the billions of neurons to the tiny thalamus to the moral monitor in our prefrontal cortex. She also shows the progress made in mapping the human genome, whose 30,000?40,000 genes are almost all active in the brain. In perhaps the most fascinating section of the book, we read gripping stories of the people who develop mental illness, the friends and relatives who share their suffering, the physicians who treat them, and the scientists who study them so that better treatments can be found. This section covers four major disorders?schizophrenia, manic depression, anxiety disorders, and dementia?revealing what causes them, what happens to the mind and brain, and how the illnesses are treated. Finally, the book shows how the powerful tools of genetics and neuroscience will combine during the next decades to build healthier brains and minds.

--from Oxford University Press

Twenty years ago, Andreasen wrote about the paradigm shift in psychiatry from a psychodynamic model to a biomedical model. Now she reports on the progress of that shift and about a new revolution based on brain imaging and advances in genetics. Andreasen is both the editor in chief of the American Journal of Psychiatry and a neuroimaging researcher--two roles that put her on the cutting edge of biomedical psychiatry. In Brave New Brain, she sums up current theory about the biological roots of mental illness. Then she focuses individually on the four major mental disorders--schizophrenia, mood disorders, anxiety, and dementia--and surveys current and potential treatment options for each.

--from Science News

Oxford University Press, 2001, 6 1/4 x 9 1/2, 368 pages, hardcover

Brave New Brain

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