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eise or specific recognition. The evidence presented tojustify thb dbtinction is anecdotal. Next, it b suggested that these two categories are localized in different portions ofthe cortex. Now such assumptions would have some merit ifthey could be shown to shed light on the organization ofbehavior or on one or another ofthe diverse findings arising from the neurological clinic or from experimental ablation studies. Unfortunately, such justification b not forthcoming. Finally, Fair attempts to analyze the ways in which memory traces are set up in a given cortical sector. Here he relies on the assumption made in other theoretical treatments that the probability ofrecurrence ofa pattern ofcell-firing increases with each repetition ofthat pattern; and on the further assumption, which b probably incorrect, that ifa cell participates in one pattern ofactivity, that cell will be less useful in preserving information related to another firing pattern. He assumes further that large cells have higher firing thresholds and are less active than small cells (which precept the intense activity ofPurkinje cells ofthe cerebellum would seem to violate); he concludes, therefore, that the large cells ofthe cerebral cortex, which are most numerous in layers lile and V, may be peculiarly fit to play a role in memory-trace formation. It b perhaps needless to say that these assumptions and the conclusions based upon them are, at best, highly speculative. Thesecondpart ofthe booktakes up the functions ofthe brainstem reticular formation, the limbic system, and their relations widi one ano&er and with the cerebral cortex. Fair's general approach to the problems ofcentral integration b a sound one in that a given anatomical structure b not conceived ofas a center ofthb or that higher function, but rather as concerned with initiating and modifying the activity of other structures—the elaboration ofany function, such as consciousness, involving a synergy ofmany diffèrent neuralsystems. Any attempt to account for the functions ofdifferent systems insuch terms b hampered because many, ifnot most, empirical studies are based on a diffèrent kind of assumption, namely, that the role ofa given nucleus may be adequately summarized by a list ofbehavioral categories which are elicited by stimulation ofthe structure or affected by its removal. For thb reason Fair's speculations about the role ofvarious systems in the genesb ofbehavior, while sometimes provocative, are for die most part only radier indirectly supported by empirical studies. Perhaps the best summary ofthe book b the author's statement "that thb book may contain one or two ideas of value embedded in a matrix of others either incorrect or truistic or both." Jay M. Goldberg University ofChicago Three Hundred Years ofPsychiatry, 1335-1860: A History Presented in Selected English Texts. Edited by Richard Hunter and Ida Macalptne. London: Oxford University Press, 1963. Pp. xxvi—1107. $13.45. Drs. Hunter and Macalpine have already earned the gratitude ofthose interested in the hbtory of psychiatry for publbhing facsimile editions of a number of old and scarce 372 Book Reviews Perspectives in Biology and Medicine · Spring 1964 psychiatrie texts together with their own introductions. These efforts enabled the modern reader to orient in place and time many ofthose who worked before him. Thb new volume b a much more ambitious effort, which introduces the reader to the writings of more than 300 personalities of the past whose work was related in some fashion to the evolution of psychiatry. It b a chronologically arranged anthology of hundreds ofshort excerpts with briefannotations. The authors drawn from are almost all English, with a few American writers and René Descartes and Feuchtersieben in Englbh translations. An anthology ofexcerpts by its very nature resembles an iceberg in that theparts ofthe books omitted, the submerged portion, are much larger than the exposed peaks. Thus the function ofthe editor ofsuch a volume b to acquaint the reader with what ofthe original contribution seems most pertinent and, with shorter works, to select the essential parts. The editors have succeeded in doing thb in Three Hundred Years ofPsychiatry. Accepting these limitations and grateful to learn even a little about so much, we must be impressed by the vastness ofthe material covered. It b divided by centuries only, beginning with the sixteenth; and it b interesting to note the enormous...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1529-8795
Print ISSN
0031-5982
Pages
pp. 372-373
Launched on MUSE
2015-01-07
Open Access
No
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