Recommended Reading - Understanding the more technical aspects of the Brain
The most difficulty I have in reading medical accounts is in the undefined medical terminology which makes comprehension laborious (have to look up every other word; something like translating a foreign language) and discouraging. Where I hope that you would be of help is in recommending some references that would address them. I'm not sure that a medical book would help as my lack of background would probably make it incomprehensible to me. Is there a Scientific American-type article that would help? These are usually at a level that can be understood by the non-specialist.
Although I have seen numerous articles on the various neurotransmitters and how their concentration and action is related in some way to mental disorder, what is missing for me is,
(1) An actual cartoon/drawing of the receptors, transmitters the synapse and whatever else is necessary in picturing the brains activities in the thought process. Where and how are the neurotransmitters produced and or stored? Are they released from brain cells and transmit through the synapse to other cells? What are the synapse? How is the brain put together with all these parts?
(2) A verbal and pictorial representation of the process of an external stimulation such a as a sight or sound and the signal process of how and why these events lead to the thought process and what role the neurotransmitters play, ie describe (and picture) the sequence of events that takes place in the brain for a process such as this.
(3) How this process is disrupted/actuated in the person with a mental disorder. How does the flood of uncontrolled thoughts come about? Why is there a spontaneous anger or depression? How are thoughts stored in memory and why do they suddenly come back?
(4) What are the theories of how the drugs control or change these events?
In other words what is needed, for me, in addition to the details of the brain chemistry, is how this is all related to the overall thought/memory process. I have a disconnect between the neurotransmitters and the big picture of the thought process.
Finally, do you know of a reference that would address some of my questions and ignorance?
Again, thanks very much for all your time and energy in contributing to this web site.
I may just have the right reading material (book) to answer Kevin's curiosities. In my opinion, this book addresses Kevin's questions about neurotransmitters, neuroreceptors, and the psychopharmacological agents. It also provides excellent pictorials and diagrams on how these neurotransmitters, receptors, and the different psychopharmacological agents work. I recently ordered this book (haven't received it yet) based on my own browsing of the book (through a colleague who has it) and recommendations from book reviews by different experts on psychopharmacology.
The title of the book is "Essential Psychopharmacology: Neuroscientific Basis and Practical Applications," released in 1996 by Stephen M. Stahl, M.D., Ph.D. The book can be ordered through Cambridge University Press, N.Y. (I think they also have a web site). It has 379 pages (lots of pictorials). The hardcover is $120 and the softcover is $49.95.
A few words about the author, Stephen M. Stahl, M.D., Ph.D.
1) He is currently Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry, University of California at San Diego, and Director, Clinical Neuroscience Research Center.
2) He received his undergraduate and medical degrees from Northwestern University in Chicago. He received his PhD degree in pharmacology and physiology from the University of Chicago. He has trained 3 specialties: internal medicine at the University of Chicago; neurology at the University of California at San Francisco; and psychiatry at Stanford University.
3) He has conducted numerous research projects awarded by the NIMH and by V.A. as a faculty member at Stanford University, UCLA, the University of London's Institute of Psychiatry, and UCSD.
3) Internationally recognized clinician, researcher, and lecturer in psychiatry, with subspecialty in psychopharmacology.
4) His book (mentioned above) serves as the basis for numerous courses, lecturers, and precetorships for physicians, psychiatrists, mental health workers, and students of all levels. (Kevin should then be able to comprehend the contents of this book.) He also edits two features in leading psychiatric journals, "Psychopharm Snapshots" for Psychiatric Annals and "Brianstorms" for the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry" (Seen them. Both excellent illustrations sections about psychopharmacological agents.)
The following are excerpts from the book review (mentioned above) done by Dr. Frank J. Ayd, Jr., appeared in Psychiatric Times, February 1997:
"Stahl, a gifted teacher, expert psychopharmacologist and neuroscientist, collaborated with a talented illustrator to produce this superb, authoritative exposition of the fundamentals of neuropsychopharmacology and psychoactive drug therapy. With enviable clarity and succinctness, Stahl and the illustrator cover how psychotropic drugs work and how to use them properly. This masterful production will benefit a broad spectrum of readers, from STUDENTS to knowledgeable and experienced psychopharmacologists."
"The author's thoughtfulness is substantiated by his sage advice to novices to first review the APPROXIMATELY 300 CARTOON-LIKE COLOR GRAPHICS and their legends, and then to go back to read the text and the graphics at the same time."
"This worthwhile book has received justifiable endorsement from such leaders in psychopharmacology and psychopharmcotherapy as Lewis Judd, M.D., and Ross Baldessarini, M.D., I join them in endorsing this book because it will be valued by and used repeatedly by those fortunate enough to have it their personal library."
I believe this book is a piece of work that clearly illustrates the action and functions of the neurotransmitters, neuroreceptors, psychopharmacological agents for everyone, experts psychopharmacologists and laymen alike (at least, the reasonably well educated persons, as you put it).
On another note, there are articles that also appear in different scientific journals such as Scientific American, Nature, etc., but I can't say for sure if these topics have already been published. I don't subscribe to them. I usually stop by a local Barnes and Noble bookstore here and browse and if I see a topic that interests me and consider a "keeper" then I buy that issue. As you know, they are very expensive.
Hope this book is the right resource to satisfy Kevin's intellectual curiosities about the brain, specifically the neurotransmitters, receptors and psychopharmacology.
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