Giacobini E., Filogamo G., Giacobini G., et al (editors) THE AGING BRAIN: CELLULAR AND MOLECULAR MECHANISMS OF AGING IN THE NERVOUS SYSTEM (AGING1 volume 20). New York: Raven Press, 1982, 304 pp., $33.50.
The subtitle accurately describes this work, as it is a review of contemporary research findings in the areas of cellular and molecular mechanisms of the nervous system. The research is largely laboratory and animal. One article's title conveys the flavor of the volume: "Microspectrofluorimetnc Quantification of Histochemically Demonstrable Catech ola mines in Peripheral and Brain Catecholamine-containing Neurons in Male Fischer-344 Rats at Different Ages."
The editors (from the Institute of Human Anatomy in Turin) have assembled 24 articles authored by over 70 contributors. Half of the authors are from American institutions and the rest are drawn from eight other countries. Most of the authors are the foremost authorities in their microfields, but they quote themselves so frequently that the reader gets the impression that they are summarizing what they have said before in journal articles. One exception to this is Giacobini's closing article, which attempts to formulate a new theory of neuronal aging. This article is a stimulating review of the important questions in the field, major research findings, and suggestions for directions in theory-building.
The format and quality of the book is consistent with the high standards that have been seen in the earlier volumes of this Raven series. The paper is heavy and glossy, making for sharp pictures of the numerous diagrams, graphs, tables, and stained slides. Each article has alphabetically-arranged terminal references and there is an eight-page, double column index for the entire volume. Unfortunately, some of the articles do not have an adequate abstract or summary.
In short, this book is an essential addition for medical and biological science libraries, especially those that do not have the foreign journals in this field. However, for psychiatrists who limit their readings to the more practical issues of diagnosis and treatment, this book has little to offer.