Neurotopia

If you haven’t checked out the DANA Foundation, well, you should. The DANA Foundation and DANA Alliance for Brain Initiatives are dedicated to providing up-to-date scientific information to the public, as well as supporting research and the arts. And they do a heck of a good job at laying out new findings in a very accessible fashion.

I wanted to take a quick moment to plug their book The DANA Guide to Brain Health: A practical family reference from medical experts. This book and CD-ROM, with over 100 scientists and clinicians contributing to the contents, is an excellent primer in a whole slew of brain disorders, running the spectrum from degenerative diseases to pain management, to addiction, psychological disorders, tumors, you name it. They also provide good background material about how the brain functions normally, and what happens throughout the lifespan with excellent chapters on infant/childhood, adolescent, and adult brain development.

If you have an interest in disorders of the nervous system, or a number of nervous system-related disorders that are prevalent in your family or friends, I highly recommend you purchase a copy. Each disorder is clearly and concisely defined with a minimum of jargon, and followed by a section on clinical presentation and diagnosis, along with a description of prognoses, treatment options, and medication strategies as appropriate.

The appendices are also useful in their own right: a handy glossary is provided, along with a list of commonly used pharmaceuticals for treatment of different disorders, a list of other foundations that address specific nervous system disorders in greater detail (and may provide patient support), and a list of additional resources.

I didn’t find the CD-ROM to be particularly useful. There was little content in addition to the book itself, and while it would come in handy if you want to tote the book around on your computer, there’s not much else available outside of some slide shows and a couple interactive images that aren’t particularly interactive. Perhaps a future edition will expand these options.

Despite the lackluster CD-ROM, this book is a gold mine for the lay person. Go to DANA Press to check out the contents and perhaps get your hands on one.