Book Review| Volume 24, ISSUE 7, P736, October 2002

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Vision in the brain: organization and plasticity in the visual system

P.G. Simos. Lisse: Swets and Zeitlinger, 2002. 220 pp.
      This book, in the eyes of a child neurologist, is a tour de force: a review of what has been learned over the past 30 years about the structure, development, and function of the visual system, from the eye to the neocortex. The reviewer was mystified by the fact that the author does not appear to have contributed any of the wide-ranging evidence covered, as she did not find a single reference to the author's work in over 20 pages of references; however, a Medline search uncovered 42 papers since 1996, 14 in 2001–2002, virtually all concerned with electrophysiology or functional imaging in disorders like dyslexia. The author's scientific background explains why the review is well integrated and ranges from gross and fine anatomy through electrophysiology, neurotransmitters, in vitro and in vivo experiments in a wide range of species, to the development of visual behavior and the effects of brain lesions at all levels of the visual system in humans. The author has provided an ambitious and detailed synthesis of a massive amount of information. The result is a book which a graduate student in neuroscience interested in the visual system would no doubt find useful as a broad scholarly introduction to his field. Child neurologists will find much of direct interest, in particular in the discussion of developmental issues and sensitive periods for cortical plasticity in infants with early visual deficits like strabismus or cataracts.
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