The Other Brain

  • by R. Douglas Fields
  • Narrated by Victor Bevine, R. Douglas Fields (introduction)
  • 12 hrs and 54 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Despite everything that has been written about the brain, a very important part of this vital organ has been overlooked in most books - until now. The Other Brain is the story of glia, which make up approximately 85 percent of the cells in the brain. Long neglected as little more than cerebral packing material ("glia" means glue), glia are sparking a revolution in brain science.
Glia are completely different from neurons, the brain cells that we are familiar with. Scientists are discovering that glia have their own communication network, which operates in parallel to the more familiar communication among neurons. Glia provide the insulation for the neurons, and glia even regulate the flow of information between neurons.
But it is the potential breakthroughs for medical science that are the most exciting frontier in glia research today. Diseases such as brain cancer and multiple sclerosis are caused by diseased glia. Glia are now believed to play an important role in such psychiatric illnesses as schizophrenia and depression, and in neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. They are linked to infectious diseases such as HIV and prion disease (mad cow disease, for example) and to chronic pain. Scientists have discovered that glia repair the brain and spinal cord after injury and stroke. The more we learn about these cells that make up the "other" brain, the more important they seem to be.
Written by a neuroscientist who is a leader in the research to reveal the secrets of these brain cells, The Other Brain offers a firsthand account of science in action. It takes us into the laboratories where important discoveries are being made, and it explains how scientists are learning that glial cells come in different types, with different capabilities. It tells the story of glia research from its origins to the most recent discoveries and gives readers a much more complete understanding of how the brain works and where the next breakthroughs in brain science and medicine are likely to come.
BONUS AUDIO: Includes an introduction written and read by the author, R. Douglas Fields.


What the Critics Say

"In 16 absorbing and accessible chapters, Fields gives life to a potentially dry medical topic by eavesdropping on the work of other neuroscientists, past and present, and shows how penetrating glia's secrets offers hope for breakthroughs in healing Alzheimer’s, brain tumors, and even spinal cord injuries. Highly recommended, especially to science lovers and medical professionals." (Booklist)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

I don't have enough brain to read about the brain.

Wow, even though I am in the medical field I found this book a tough one. The level at which things are explained are more suited to someone doing an advanced degree in neuropsycology. There should have been some sort of not attempt this at home....very heavy, very detailed, very in-depth coverage of the brain. This book is not meant for us with "regular" brains, only those who are "brainiacs" should attempt to understand this one. All it really did was confirm that I do not posses enough white matter...or grey....and probably am deficient of some synapses too. Oh well...
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- Joan "I'm not a prolific reader but I do love audiobooks, as I can do something else while listening. I really love them as "bedtime stories"!"


This is more of a revelation than a book- for what stunning discoveries it conveys makes its medium or presentation moot ( at least to me). If you're interested in brain science-brace yourself!
in fact If you have interests regarding anything in human biology this is a must read!

Imagine .......In all these years of brain research they have missed half the brain! That is basically what has in fact happened. The gliel cells which make up a very large portion of the cells in the brain have till now been thought of as little more than a glue or some kind of .Innocuous support material -when in fact they are essential heavy lifters or V.I.C's (very important cells) in the aw inspiring workings of the human brain. This is a HUGE revelation!!

As for the book itself- I found it well written and exciting BUT make no mistake, when things get technical this book will require ALL of your eye squinting attention. If you have in fact done your part in giving the teck parts your undivided attention, you will be rewarded with enough facinating jaw dropping explanations to send all facets of your gray matter into contorted orgasm. Ive yet to see the print edition so I dont know what it has in terms of illustration but if a book ever needed illustration its this one. In my excitement I naturaly hit utube and google to see what I could "see" I found that The author did do some kind of ted related presentation but it was an excersise in utter frustration! The video guy missed most of the animations/illustrations on the screen. Im frankly surprised and dissapointed that such a poor presentation would make it onto ted-talks.

Well the future of brain research has certainly and suddenly just lurched forward with a monty python sized step and the cures for many of our worst physical and mental maladies seem much closer to eradication.

On a personal note this is of great importance to myself as I suffer from chronic pain and as mentioned in the book, this is one of the maladies that can be directly attributed to gliel cells and this very research
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- Jeff "54 yrs, ,memb 12yrs,library -75%nonfic 10% fiction,15% classics. History, all sciences, bio, classics,diverse other interests."

Book Details

  • Release Date: 09-28-2010
  • Publisher: Audible Studios