The Second Brain

Michael Gershon, Author
Michael Gershon, Author HarperCollins Publishers $24 (314p) ISBN 978-0-06-018252-6
Reviewed on: 12/29/1997
Release date: 11/01/1998
Gershon, who has been called the father of neurogastroenterology and is professor of anatomy and cell biology at New York's Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center, has devoted his career to basic research on the nervous system of the gut. His fascination with this ""second brain"" is boundless, and he strives mightily to share his enthusiasm. With analogies and simple line drawings, good humor and a story-teller's love of character and plot, he describes how knowledge about the little-known enteric nervous system has been uncovered. To appreciate the wonder of this second brain, one must grasp the complexity of the system it runs, and Gershon tackles that subject in considerable detail--indeed, probably more detail than the general reader requires. While the particulars of research conducted in his and other neurobiologists' labs is also likely to overwhelm the nonbiologist, general readers will appreciate the implications of that research. As understanding emerges of how the second brain controls the behavior of the bowel, real progress is coming in the prevention, treatment and control of the belly's woes. To millions of sufferers of such diseases as heartburn and irritable bowel syndrome, this will be welcome information. (Oct.)
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