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The Root of Thought: Unlocking Glia--the Brain Cell That Will Help Us Sharpen Our Wits, Heal Injury, and Treat Brain Disease [Format Kindle]

Andrew Koob

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Présentation de l'éditeur

Until recently, neuroscientists thought glial cells did little more than hold your brain together. But in the past few years, they've discovered that glial cells are extraordinarily important. In fact, they may hold the key to understanding intelligence, treating psychiatric disorders and brain injuries and perhaps even curing fatal conditions like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and Lou Gehrig's Disease. In The Root of Thought, leading neuroscientist Dr. Andrew Koob reveals what we've learned about these remarkable cells, from their unexpected role in information storage to their function as adult stem cells that can keep your brain growing and adapting longer than scientists ever imagined possible. Ranging from fruit flies to Einstein, Koob reveals the surprising correlation between intelligence and the brain's percentage of glial cells - and why these cells' unique wavelike communications may be especially conducive to the fluid information processing human beings depend upon. You'll learn how crucial glial cells grow and develop... why almost all brain tumors are comprised of glial cells and the potential implications for treatment... even the apparent role of glial cells in your every thought and dream!

Quatrième de couverture

Discover the Other 90% of Your Brain


  • Learn about brain science breakthroughs that might hold the key to intelligence, creativity, and imagination.
  • Discover amazing cells that keep your brain growing, adapting, and healing.
  • Preview possible breakthroughs for brain cancer, brain trauma, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and even schizophrenia.


If you know anything about brains, you’ve heard of neurons. Those are the cells that have long been seen as central to virtually everything your brain thinks, feels, and does. But neurons represent only 10% of your brain cells.

What does the other 90% do?


Until recently, scientists didn’t have a clue. Now, they’re discovering the real function of those long-neglected glial cells―and the story is nothing short of amazing.


In The Root of Thought, brain scientist Andrew Koob reveals that story. You’ll learn what glial cells are, how they function, and how they might help explain everything from intelligence and creativity to imagination and dreams. Then, Koob reveals the tantalizing clues about glial cells that could eventually lead to cures for brain injury, psychiatric disorders, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Lou Gehrig’s disease, and even brain cancer.


Chapter 1: Cities and Highways     1

Chapter 2: Dust Settles on the Battlefield     5

Chapter 3: I Sing the Body Electric     15

Chapter 4: Meet the Astrocyte     29

Chapter 5: Riding the Calcium Wave     41

Chapter 6: Hey Neuron, It’s Me, Glia        55

Chapter 7: Developing Relationships     65

Chapter 8: The Time Machine     77

Chapter 9: Sing a New Song     89

Chapter 10: Albert Einstein’s Abundant Astrocytes     99

Chapter 11: I Dream of Glia     111

Chapter 12: Gliadegenerative Disease     121

Chapter 13: Don’t Insult Me     133

Chapter 14: The Seething Breeding Glioma     145

Chapter 15: Cities and Highways Revisited     155

Acknowledgments     159

About the Author     161

Index     163


Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 733 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 192 pages
  • Utilisation simultanée de l'appareil : Jusqu'à 5 appareils simultanés, selon les limites de l'éditeur
  • Editeur : Pearson FT Press; Édition : 1 (3 juin 2009)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • Synthèse vocale : Activée
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  • Word Wise: Non activé
  • Composition améliorée: Non activé
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: n°501.613 dans la Boutique Kindle (Voir le Top 100 dans la Boutique Kindle)

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Amazon.com: 3.6 étoiles sur 5  23 commentaires
78 internautes sur 82 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 The science is interesting, the book is not 27 septembre 2009
Par Michael Weiler - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
The Root of Thought is Andrew Koob's book about the emerging research suggesting that the glial cells in our brain ("the other 90% of our brain") may serve more of a vital role in thought processing and other brain functions than was ever previously understood. Koob is a brain scientist, and it is clear from the very beginning of his work that it was written by a researcher and not someone more classically trained in literature. The book seems to have been written without an intended audience in mind because it is this reviewer's opinion that it is not nearly accessible enough to be enjoyed by the casual reader yet oversimplified for the neuroscience aficionado. As a reader, it was difficult to become engaged with the text because it seemed to assume a fair bit of neuroscience fluency that the average individual does not possess. As a college biomedical engineering major I found myself frustrated by a lack of detail at times and at other times inundated with references to brain physiology that were unfamiliar to me. I did not find the book to be an enjoyable read; however, the science upon which the book is written is fascinating.

The first quarter of the book is devoted to the history of brain research from the beginnings of electrophysiology up until the recent decades when the importance of glia has begun to emerge. It summarizes that glial cells were thought to merely be insulators for neurons without serving any other functional purpose, and that the only important cells in the brain were neurons (Neuron Doctrine). Consequently, the research conducted over the nearly 100 years that followed focused almost exclusively on neurons. These three history chapters could (and probably should) be condensed into one short chapter that gives the reader a basic understanding of the Neuron Doctrine and explains why science is only just beginning to understand the importance of glial cells. The history section as it is currently written is overly drawn out, references entirely too many studies that most readers are surely unfamiliar with, and includes several unnecessary and inappropriate personal references from the author revealing his frustrations with the pioneering brain scientists responsible for the establishment of the Neuron Doctrine.

The subsequent chapters discuss the functional mechanism of glia (more specifically astrocytes), their possible role in intelligence and thought generation, their connection to dreams, and their potential to be used to treat brain diseases. These sections are better than the first, but require too much effort by the reader to identify conclusions and determine what is important.

Astrocytes communicate to themselves as well as neurons using calcium waves, and it is hypothesized that these calcium waves are the roots of our thoughts. The calcium waves may be the mechanism by which we store information in our cortex and how we can think about what we have experienced. Astrocytes help to form neuronal synapses which help to increase intelligence by increasing the speed at which we can process information, but astrocytes are also capable of spontaneous firing without neurons, which may be the source of inspiration and imagination. It has been shown that having a higher glia-to-neuron ratio correlates with higher intelligence, and since humans have the highest ratio of any animal, this may explain our intellectual dominance over the animal kingdom. Koob also mentions that "Einstein had a [significantly] higher astrocyte-to-neuron ratio in the area of the left parietal cortex" as compared to "normal" brains, which may explain his increased ability in mathematics and spatial thinking (104).

Astrocytes are thought to be more active at night, doing most of their regeneration during this time. Koob suggests "the rapid eye movements seen in REM sleep could be glia experimenting with the neuronal firing to make sure their connections are solid" (112). The astrocytes respond to a day's worth of sensory input by growing new astrocytes in the regions that were most commonly used. It is thought that this glial activation during the night may be the source of dreaming, and since it is easier to instigate calcium waves in cells that have been previously activated, it seems that our dreams are the direct result of our recent experiences.

Another key function of astrocytes is the maintenance of neurons, mainly in the form of removing cellular waste such as glutamate. There is evidence to suggest that several of the common brain degenerative diseases may be the indirect result of gliadegeneration. It is hypothesized that with fewer astrocytes available to remove the cellular waste, the neurons themselves begin to degenerate. Additionally, it is thought that astrocytes serve to prevent secondary neurodegeneration following a head injury. Much of the research regarding brain injury focusses on the possibility of injecting astrocytes into the damaged brain area to see it will help to maintain the health of the neurons. Koob states, "In the event of a gunshot wound to the head, astrocyte therapy may be the only avenue to regrow areas of the brain" (137).

As was mentioned in a previous review, most of what Koob discusses in this book is purely speculation at this point as the research in this field is only in its infancy. I question whether Koob is justified in making several of the claims that he does regarding the importance of glia without more concrete studies to support such statements. It appears he may be falling into a similar trap as the Neuron Doctrine by focusing so exclusively on glia. The reader is cautioned not to take Koob's writing as fact, but merely as speculation as to the potential functions of glia. Overall, the science that Koob discusses in his book is really quite fascinating, which makes it a shame that it is written so poorly. The average reader with an interest in the subject should pursue an abbreviated outline of the text that summarizes the interesting points rather than the text itself as it is not accessible to those without at least a minor familiarity with the subject matter.
36 internautes sur 40 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
1.0 étoiles sur 5 You can't tell a book by it's cover 5 décembre 2009
Par Dr. Jan B. Newman - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
The cover of this book says "The Root of Thought", "Unlocking glia The brain cell that will help us sharpen Our Wits, Heal Injury and Treat Brain Disease" unfortunately there is nothing in this book that validates any of those claims.
It is unclear what audience the author had in mind. It is too complex for a layman and over simplified for anyone with any knowledge of neuroscience. It comes down to glia has calcium currents and we don't know what role it plays as it hasn't been studied.I was disappointed by this book and forced myself to finish it in case it got better. It didn't.
I found this book almost painful to read with its mixed metaphors and bad humor " It is wise to listen to a guy who'll go as far as to cover his own eyes with tin foil." Regarding Volta. Or "Shocking the hell out of you will surely get you out of a funk." Regarding shock treatments for depression,. Or regarding statistical significance "a scientific term to mean that it was "pretty different enough to say that it means something" or talking about the front cortex.... Ouch
Some of the history is interesting, however, I have to wonder how accurate it is.
If you are hoping to have the claims on the cover fulfilled, don't hold your breath.
This book does give inspiration to aspiring authors. If this book got published, anyone can.
19 internautes sur 21 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 Not the best 15 septembre 2009
Par Geezer - Publié sur Amazon.com
This is a rather speculative work. There are a good many "maybe"s, "might"s, and "perhaps"es. Perhaps not enough. (But see below.) There is also the occasional rhetorical excess: "we are our astrocytes." Some stylistic infelicities, the author's self-characterization as a brave and lonely voice and a vendetta against Ramon y Cajal detract only slightly from the overall interest. Attempts at the common touch through pop culture references and a fondness for similes don't always serve the writer well.
BUT data supporting Koob's main point on the significance of neuroglia, specifically astrocytes, for mental functioning is coming in. For example, work cited by [...] in two recent articles:
1."Astrocytes help separate man from mouse"
Researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center: "Our
study suggests that astrocytes are part of the higher cognitive functioning that defines who we are as humans." (3/23/09)
2."Star-shaped cells in the brain aid with learning" (9/07/09)

Future books on the brain which ignore this data may risk rapid obsolesce. But I would dearly love to read a review by someone with serious neuroscience cred. 4 1/2 stars
10/03/09 This just in: the oft cited figure of 10 times as many glia as neurons, repeated by Koob, may be wildly off. Some recent
data suggest 1:1--Neurocritic blog 9/27/09.

Update 12/22/10: I would now give Koob 2 or 3 stars for the reason noted above. R Douglas Fields' The Other Brain is more comprehensive, authoritative and accessible. Fields give the ratio of glia to neurons as 6:1. (When I first tried to research the literature on glia 40 years ago, the pickin's were slim. I got overexcited.)
20 internautes sur 24 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 best book I've read since 1958! 7 septembre 2009
Par C. L. Vash - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
51 years ago I started my PhD program in psychology At UCLA. The next year I started taking the courses I needed at the medical school. After my first course in neurology I started asking questions about the professor's claims that glial cells were nothing but "packing" to protect the neurons. I just couldn't buy it. Every time I tried to start a conversation I was pretty much told to hush and go away. I did. Fortunately, I met a med student in the lounge with whom I made a long-term fond acquaintanceship. He ultimately became the director of the brain research institute and for the next 45 years I checked in with him to learn whether better information had become available on glia yet. If it had, he didn't know or remember that THAT subject was the main reason I had stayed in touch with him. He was, apparently, no more interested in alternatives to the standard crap than anyone else, so Koop's book was the first hint I had that I was not absolutely alone in suspecting that glial cells were WAY more important than so far imagined. When I saw this book reviewed in a magazine, I ordered it and started reading the minute it arrived. [I had been forced to move from researcher to clinician in grad school and then promoted quickly to department head in a hospital so I had not stayed in touch with this research issue]. On the first page I broke into joyous hysterics. I'd been right! Koob, a couple of generations later, had a PILE of findings I hadn't had and he had hypothesized pretty much what I had imagined as a possibility. Now, at age 74, retired from salaried work and enjoying a life of writing and illustrating books about whatever is intriguing me at the moment, I had only one embarrassing problem: I couldn't stop LAUGHING over finally getting a possible ANSWER to my 50 year old question: what the hell do they think 90% of the brain cells are FOR????????? cv
4 internautes sur 4 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Exactly what I needed to read. 11 décembre 2010
Par Allan Sherwood - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
I am a "brain/mind enthusiast". I am a science teacher of 13 years whose main study was in physics, but who also enjoyed biology. I am just coming around to secular study of A&P.

The large 2-star review was extensive and detailed. The reviewer felt the author premature in making many of his conclusions without more evidence to support them.

I say, THAT is the only way advancement is ever made: someone looking at the status quo with curious doubt, who sets up initial experiments, records results, and makes an "erroneous" claim.

Before I read this book, I thought the brain was only composed of neurons; I didn't have human anatomy/physiology, opting for Zo and Botany classes in general to complete my degree. Besides, nothing is ever said "commercially" about any other cell. I found it shocking that the statement "only 10% of our brain is used" was based on the ratio of glial to neural cells; shouldn't we know by now that Nature doesn't do anything without purpose? Why would 90% of our brain be "inactive"? I also found it shocking that "our" reliance on neurons as the progenitors of thought is based on an earlier-than-19th-century paradigm of electrical stimuli.

Why shouldn't the main function, THOUGHT, be carried out in the main structure, GLIAL cells?

To this, I tell all doubting researchers of academia: DUH! Get out of your boneheaded paradigm and use a little imagination. It's not hard to put it together.

Read the book. It's hilarious at the right times, too.
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