Essays in Biochemistry, Volume 33
Molecular Biology of the Brain
Edited by S. J. Higgins


The workings of the brain have long held a fascination for scientists. Yet, faced as they have been with the obvious anatomical and biochemical complexity of the brain, understanding its functions--more than superficially--has seemed an impossible goal. The authors of the essays in this volume, acknowledged experts in their specialties, have illustrated the power of molecular biology to dissect the molecular functioning of the brain. The volume has related essays on neurotransmitters and their receptors, aspects of neuronal development and neurodegeneration, the molecular biology of opiate action, and the concept of neuronal networks in the olfactory system. It continues with essays on some of the major healthcare problems that can be expected to yield to analysis by molecular genetical approaches--neurodegenerative and affective disorders such as schizophrenia, Alzheimer's disease, spongiform encephalopathies, prion diseases, and trinucleotide expansion disorders. The volume concludes first with an exciting account of how molecular biology is beginning to explain a phenomenon as complex as memory and, finally, a thought-provoking essay on future developments in the field.

First published in 1999.