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Principles of Brain Evolution [Hardcover]

Georg F. Striedter
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Book Description

October 5, 2004 0878938206 978-0878938209 1
Brain evolution is a complex weave of species similarities and differences, bound by diverse rules or principles. This book is a detailed examination of these principles, using data from a wide array of vertebrates but minimizing technical details and terminology. It is written for advanced undergraduates, graduate students, and more senior scientists who already know something about "the brain," but want a deeper understanding of how diverse brains evolved.

The book opens with a brief history of evolutionary neuroscience, then introduces the various groups of vertebrates and their major brain regions. The core of the text explores: what aspects of brain organization are conserved across the vertebrates; how brains and bodies changed in size as vertebrates evolved; how individual brain regions tend to increase or decrease in size; how regions can become structurally more (or less) complex; and how neuronal circuitry evolves. A central theme emerges from these chapters—that evolutionary changes in brain size tend to correlate with many other aspects of brain structure and function, including the proportional size of individual brain regions, their complexity, and their neuronal connections. To explain these correlations, the book delves into rules of brain development and asks how changes in brain structure impact function and behavior. The two penultimate chapters demonstrate the application of these rules, focusing on how mammal brains diverged from other brains and how Homo sapiens evolved a very large and "special" brain.


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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Georg Striedter has produced a wonderful book that discusses current understanding of brain evolution. It nicely reflects recent advances." -- - Jon H. Kaas (2005) Nature Neuroscience, 8: 539

"Striedter meticulously clarifies the problems we face identifying similarities across species while giving full weight to the complexities" -- Barbara Clancy (2006) Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 29:14

"Striedter succeeds repeatedly by explicating the main principles of brain evolution without encyclopedic or dry detail." -- - David C. Airey and Christince E. Collins (2005) Genes, Brain and Behavior, 4: 272

"Striedter’s (2005) book does an excellent job of demonstrating that evolutionary approaches are not optional extras" -- - Robert Barton (2006) Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 29:13

"Striedter’s (2005) book represents an important synthesis of ideas and approaches to brain evolution across different levels" --- A. Raffone & G. Brase (2006) Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 29:22

Georg Striedter has produced a wonderful book that discusses current understandings of brain evolution. . . . Overall, this is a volume that most neuroscientists will enjoy reading, and some of them, myself included, will find it useful as a textbook for graduate students and advanced undergraduates. --Jon H. Kaas, Nature Neuroscience

In Principles of Brain Evolution, Striedter accomplishes several important goals: he conveys the many aspects of brain structure and function that are conserved across species; he illustrates in a clear manner why species differences are real and should not be dismissed; he explores the complex issue as to how conservation and divergence noted at various levels of neural organization relate to one another; and finally, he hypothesizes as to how the rules of brain development have consequences for how the brains evolve. Astonishingly, Striedter accomplishes these goals in some 360 pages of text! ... I highly recommend this book. --C. A. Morgan, III, M.D., M.A., Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine

Georg Striedter has produced a wonderful book that discusses current understandings of brain evolution. . . . Overall, this is a volume that most neuroscientists will enjoy reading, and some of them, myself included, will find it useful as a textbook for graduate students and advanced undergraduates. --Jon H. Kaas, Nature Neuroscience

In Principles of Brain Evolution, Striedter accomplishes several important goals: he conveys the many aspects of brain structure and function that are conserved across species; he illustrates in a clear manner why species differences are real and should not be dismissed; he explores the complex issue as to how conservation and divergence noted at various levels of neural organization relate to one another; and finally, he hypothesizes as to how the rules of brain development have consequences for how the brains evolve. Astonishingly, Striedter accomplishes these goals in some 360 pages of text! ... I highly recommend this book. --C. A. Morgan, III, M.D., M.A., Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine

Georg Striedter has produced a wonderful book that discusses current understandings of brain evolution. . . . Overall, this is a volume that most neuroscientists will enjoy reading, and some of them, myself included, will find it useful as a textbook for graduate students and advanced undergraduates. --Jon H. Kaas, Nature Neuroscience

In Principles of Brain Evolution, Striedter accomplishes several important goals: he conveys the many aspects of brain structure and function that are conserved across species; he illustrates in a clear manner why species differences are real and should not be dismissed --C. A. Morgan, III, M.D., M.A., Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine

Georg Striedter has produced a wonderful book that discusses current understandings of brain evolution. . . . Overall, this is a volume that most neuroscientists will enjoy reading, and some of them, myself included, will find it useful as a textbook for graduate students and advanced undergraduates. --Jon H. Kaas, Nature Neuroscience

In Principles of Brain Evolution, Striedter accomplishes several important goals: he conveys the many aspects of brain structure and function that are conserved across species; he illustrates in a clear manner why species differences are real and should not be dismissed; he explores the complex issue as to how conservation and divergence noted at various levels of neural organization relate to one another; and finally, he hypothesizes as to how the rules of brain development have consequences for how the brains evolve. Astonishingly, Striedter accomplishes these goals in some 360 pages of text! ... I highly recommend this book. --C. A. Morgan, III, M.D., M.A., Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 436 pages
  • Publisher: Sinauer Associates; 1 edition (October 5, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0878938206
  • ISBN-13: 978-0878938209
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #368,421 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars careful, scholarly review August 4, 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is an excellent introduction to the field of vertebrate brain evolution for someone without much of a background in neuroscience or evolutionary science. The author critically reviews what is known about brain evolution from the perspective of trying to enunciate underlying "laws" governing how the vertebrate brain evolves. He is careful to point out the limitations of this approach, but nonetheless makes a reasonably good case for the existence of some overarching principles which can be used to guide progress in this still emerging field. These include "big is well-connected" and "late is large". The author proposes that much of brain evolution is driven by absolute as opposed to relative brain size, and that absolute brain size has not received the attention it deserves in this regard. The book is well-organized and the author's arguments are cogent, well-supported, properly qualified, and easy to follow, with numerous excellent figures and diagrams. The author is extremely well versed in the primary literature and is not afraid to point out what is not known or poorly understood, and where further research is needed. The reader finishes with a good sense of the current state of the field and the directions it may be heading. After reading this book I came away with a better understanding of how the human brain differs from the brains of other vertebrates, how it developed, and how it endows us with our human abilities and liabilities. Five stars.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Prof. Georg F. Striedter has done a superb and comprehensive job of summarizing an incredibly complex subject (brain evolution). One can detect his enthusiasm for and delight in his subject matter, qualities that make this serious work enjoyable to read.

His writing is exceptionally clear and, for the most part, accessible to the non-expert. The only thing that would have been helpful to have in addition would have been a glossary of some of the technical terms (though with Wikipedia and a good dictionary, this is not a serious problem). The bibliography and the index are detailed and thorough.

I highly recommend this book.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not a single "law" but a medley of casual principles... January 20, 2008
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
An intelligent and compelling study by Prof. George Striedter "Principles of Brain Evolution" offers a reader an inspiring expedition through the main landmarks and principles of brain evolution and development. Full of fascinating insights and turbulent ideas, this volume may serve also as an excellent guide through the concepts and hypothesis of the brain's natural history, which raised and fell under the test of questing minds along centuries.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By Frank
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
As a neuroradiologist in training, I purchased this book to get an overview of the evolutionary history of the brain. I am almost finished reading the book, and I've found it an excellent overview of brain evolution. The author is clearly an established neuroscientist who has followed and contributed to the field for years, and this is his overview. He uses examples throughout, and as is true in all good scientific writing, almost every other sentence has a reference to the original paper or book that introduced the fact or principle. As the title implies, the author integrates the facts into principles, which gives the reader a framework and approach to use when thinking about the topic. The writing style is very accessible. I highly recommend this book if you are interested in getting up to date with regard to what the scientific community has learned about brain evolution, and the principles implied.
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