RECEPTORS

The bland title to psychiatrist/neurologist Restak's latest (The Brain Has a Mind of Its Own, 1991, etc.) refers to the fascinating subject of drugs and the brain. In the last few decades, investigators have discovered an increasing number of chemicals that grease the brain's circuits: the neurotransmitters that cross the synapse between nerve cells and bind to receptors on the neighboring nerve cell membrane. The receptors themselves have been elusive, but they, too, are yielding to modern technology. All thought, emotion, and behavior are thought to stem from the complex interactions of transmitters with receptors: complex because a transmitter may bind to more than one receptor and nerve cells may secrete several receptors—phenomena that go far to explain the fine shading of human behavior. Here, Restak begins with the hallucinogens and the work of the German investigator Louis Lewin, who collected peyote buttons in Mexico and isolated mescaline. In the 1940's came the discovery of LSD 25 by Albert Hoffman, in Switzerland, who later isolated psilocybin, the magic mushroom's ingredient. There were hints that the drugs were related to naturally occurring brain chemicals, but how they worked was unclear (and still is). Much serendipity attended the early research: The use of lithium to treat manic- depression might never have come about had it not been for an Australian psychiatrist's use of lithium to dissolve uric acid from manic-depressive patients in order to inject it into guinea pigs. Today's roster of psychoactive drugs include the strong tranquilizers, the antidepressants, stimulants, and opiates- -effective because they bind to specific receptors as ``agonists,'' or block the binding of the natural chemical as ``antagonists.'' Restak is very good on origins and etymologies—and highly speculative about the future. Someday, he foresees, we may be able to sculpt the precise structure for fine-tuning cures of mental illness and even effect permanent changes to ``improve'' personality. Someday in the Brave New World? More tolerable is Restak's earlier conclusion that ``the drugs developed within any society reflect and amplify the ideals and goals of that society.''

Pub Date: March 15, 1994

ISBN: 0-553-08198-5

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Bantam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1994

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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