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Normal and Pathological Development of the Human Brain and Spinal Cord.
  1. S J WALLACE, Consultant Paediatric Neurologist
  1. University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff, UK

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    Normal and Pathological Development of the Human Brain and Spinal Cord. By Maria Dambska and Krystyna E Wisniewski. (Pp 192; £45 paperback.) John Libbey & Co Ltd, 1999. ISBN: 0-86196-591-4.**

    The authors have both spent many years studying the histological changes in the brain and spinal cord through gestation and early extrauterine life. Their main contribution is a wealth of illustrations of light and electron microscopical findings. It is a pity that the cresyl violet and other coloured stains have not been presented to the reader. All the pictures are in black and white. To the non-histologist, they seem rather similar from one page to the next. No arrows help the uninitiated with identification of specific items. For those who are familiar with the cell types described, developmental changes can be followed in a logical sequence. With at least 600 references and illustrations on virtually every page, the text occupies a relatively small proportion of the book. Some of the written material is difficult to follow. The style is jerky, almost staccato, in places but reads smoothly inothers. There are two parts to the book. The first deals with normal development and is followed by relevant references. In the second part, abnormal development is considered and liberally referenced. Throughout, the emphasis is on static findings rather than on the dynamic nature of development. There is very little reference to recent advances in knowledge of gene directed maturation of the central nervous system. Most of the publications cited refer to work done in the 1970s and 1980s, though there are a few later references. It is difficult to know for whom the book is targeted.

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