Functional Neurobiology of Aging

Editors: Patrick R. Hof and Charles V. Mobbs
Academic Press, San Diego 2001, ISBN 0-12-351830-X

Book Reviewed by: Dr. Barry Goldlist

This is a large multi-authored textbook that was developed by the editors to be a source of information for those involved in teaching the neurobiology of aging or doing research in the field. Although the two editors are both Americans, they have recruited many contributors from outside the United States.

The first section is an excellent review of the important concepts of neural aging research. The topics include the epidemiology of age-related neurologic disease, nature vs. nurture in the aging brain and the neurochemistry of receptors. These are clearly reviewed in more detail than is necessary for the casual reader, but are exhaustive and authoritative. The section on the epidemiology of neural aging is superb, and goes well beyond the usual bromides about the aging imperative.

For a practicing geriatrician, I found the chapter on the memory changes that occur with aging and dementia superb. The language is clear and concise, and the chapter gives the reader an excellent understanding of the concept of different memory functions and how they vary in the aging process.

After this, the text becomes very detailed and comprehensive. It is clearly not designed for continuous reading, but rather to be dipped into for specific data and insights. Whatever question I formulated, I could find an answer with relevant references in this text. The first question I asked was "What is the relation between Alzheimer's pathology and disorders with Lewy bodies?" I found an entire subsection on this topic. There are also excellent sections on various treatment modalities in Alzheimer disease.

In summary, this text satisfies its intended objectives to serve as a reference source for those teaching the neurobiology of aging and for researchers in the field. It could also be a useful reference text (probably in the hospital library) for clinicians with an active interest in neurodegenerative disorders.