The First Brain: The Neuroscience of Planarians

Hardcover | April 30, 2014

byOne R. Pagan

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Planarians, a class of flatworm, are extraordinary: they possess the remarkable ability to regenerate lost body parts, including complete regeneration of the nervous system. If cut into pieces, each piece of the planarian can regenerate into a complete organism. They are also unique amonginvertebrates in that they display addiction-like behaviors to many drugs abused by humans. Because of these distinct neurological traits, the planarian is often used as an animal model in neurological research, being used most recently for developments in neuropharmacology.The First Brain is a discussion of how planarians have been used in neuropharmacology, and what role they have played in scientific developments that have a high impact on our culture. Planarians have been the animal models for research in drug addiction, antidepressant development, and variousother topics in biology, neurobiology, and even zoology. Pagan uses these flatworms as a framework to explore the history of biological research. The book provides accessible background information on how biomedical research is impacted by evolution, and defines neurobiology and neuropharmacology inways that are easy to understand. At the same time, Pagan provides enough detail for the book to useful for scientists working in various subsections of biology. The planarian has played a key role in the history biological, neuropharmacological, and zoological research, and has even made appearances in a few unexpected places in popular culture. One Pagan explores all these roles, and shows us why the planarian truly is one of the most extraordinary andinfluential organisms in scientific research today.

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Planarians, a class of flatworm, are extraordinary: they possess the remarkable ability to regenerate lost body parts, including complete regeneration of the nervous system. If cut into pieces, each piece of the planarian can regenerate into a complete organism. They are also unique amonginvertebrates in that they display addiction-lik...

One Pagan is Professor of Biology at West Chester University of Pennsylvania.
Format:HardcoverDimensions:280 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.98 inPublished:April 30, 2014Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199965048

ISBN - 13:9780199965045

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Table of Contents

IntroductionPart I - Fundamentals1. ScienceScience does not existReductionism, its advantages and limitsOn theories and TheoriesEvolution and Life2. Biomedical ResearchBiochemistry and cell biology liteHow we classify lifeAnimal models and biomedical researchBasic or fundamental research?Part II - The Science of the Brain3. An introduction to neuroscienceNeuroscience or neurobiology?NeuronsThe Spaniard and the ItalianExcitable cells and electrophysiologySynapses and chemical neurotransmissionIs a nervous system absolutely necessary for survival?Plant Neurobiology4. The human brainWhat exactly is a brain?The human brain and nervous systemA brief history of what people thought of their brainsThe complexity of the human brain / On really BIG numbers5. Some brief thoughts on pharmacologyWhat is pharmacology?Psychopharmacology, plant styleAnimal models in pharmacologyPart III - Planarians6. PlanariansWhat is a flatworm?Flatworm evolution and fossil recordsWhat is a planarian?Early works on planarians (1700-1800s)Planariologists: Three "personal" connections7. Planarians in modern biologyGeneticsFirst they liked planarians then they didn'tSages of regenerationOf planarians and genomes8. Planarians in the popular culture: The arts, science fiction, fantasy and humorPlanarians in the popular culturePlanaria: Poem by Dr. Lance LarsenPlanarian manPlanaria and the new Battlestar GalacticaFringeTwilightThe Big Bang TheoryDr. WhoPlanarian humorPart IV - The First Brain9. The first brainEarly, really early nervous systemsThe first huntersThe first brainWhy are planarians an excellent animal model in neuroscience?Very brief comments on protopsychology10. From corals and plants to planarians and ratsPlanarians in pharmacology: nicotine and cocaineThe beginnings of systematic planarian pharmacology researchThe Temple University teamThe joy of discoveryFrom corals and plants to planarians and ratsPlanarian research translated to vertebrates: What does it mean, and what it doesn'tWhat can the planarian brain teach us about our own?EpilogueReferences - BooksReferences - Articles