A Celebration of Neurons, by Robert Sylwester, provides an understanding of our brain's cognitive and biological functioning. It begins with the cognitive study of the brain, and then examines the organization and operation of the brain. Educational applications of theory and research are suggested.
The author is a Professor of Education at the University of Oregon. He focuses on new developments in brain/stress theory, and their educational application. He is the author of many journal articles, and has offered his work at hundreds of conference presentations.
The author begins explaining the functioning of the brain with a cognitive perspective. The brain is viewed as studying itself and becoming increasingly aware of its processes. Methods that the brain uses to study itself include animal and human studies. Studies with normal primates and humans include electrical transmission, blood flow patters, etc.
Theories regarding the cognitive study of the brain include the nature versus nurture issue. The nurture side has been viewed as dominant in the past; new theories argue that nature is important as well. The discovery that the molecular structure of DNA, contains a form of memory, and the discovery that the immune system operates through an evolutionary natural-selection model, lend impetus toward the nature theory.
The organization of the brain includes brain cells and chemical messengers. Neurons appear to be the principal cellular agents of cognition. Information that neurons process is coded into neurotransmitters. Our brain also has a system for internal needs and values. An example of a brain system includes the limbic system, which creates a value-driven system with a focus inward on survival, emotional, and nurturing needs.
The operation of the brain includes how it interacts with the environment. External sensory impressions monitor the environment; they register on our