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Handbook of transcranial stimulation
  1. Jun Kimura

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    Edited by A Pascal-Leone, N J Davie, J Rothwell, E M Wasserman, and B K Puri (Pp 406, £110.00). Published by Arnold Publishers, London, 2002. ISBN 0-340-72009-3

    This multiauthored book, with contributions from 60 authors, comprises five parts: basic principals, methods, clinical application, cognitive functions, and psychiatric application. Each apparently was assembled by one of the five editors. Most chapters read very well as might be expected from the roster of the contributors, who are internationally recognised in the respective fields.

    Parts 1 and 2, which I like best, describe the physical principles and basic physiology underlying this unique electrodiagnostic technique. Part 3, though entitled “clinical applications”, specifically deals with neurological disorders, leaving the remaining clinical applications for the subsequent part 4, cognitive function, and part 5, psychiatric application. The format of writing varies from one section to the next. For example, all parts start with an introduction except for part 4, giving the impression of an inadvertent omission.

    As is often the case with a multiauthored text, the book presents varied articles written independently by different authors without close ties from one chapter to the next. In part 2, methods, for example, chapter 8 deals with the effect of repetitive stimulation on genetic expression in rat brain, which has very little to do with chapter 7, which relates to peripheral nerve and spinal cord stimulation, or chapter 9, which describes central conduction time. In fact, it is somewhat misleading to arrange chapters 6 through 12 under methods. The various experimental designs assembled under this heading do not necessarily describe methods for conducting the test.

    Part 3, clinical application, flows much better in this regard because of its inherent nature. But even here, some chapters, such as 22 and 23, deal with specific disorders and others, such as 17 and 18, discuss anatomical regions. Still others, such as 25 and 26, describe certain activities such as breathing and swallowing. The same applies to part 4, cognitive function, which addresses such diverse areas as language and eye movement.

    Thus, the book can best be described as a compilation of various aspects of transcranial magnetic stimulation, which are arbitrarily subdivided into five loosely related categories. Each chapter is excellent on its own merit, although, reading cover to cover, one may not appreciate a logical sequence of flow to acquire an overall concept of transmagnetic stimulation. Despite this limitation, readers can gain useful knowledge and updated information on specific topics by perusing appropriate chapters.

    In summary, the book provides the most comprehensive coverage of transcranial magnetic stimulation now available. I recommend it to anyone interested in this technique as a tool in clinical investigation. Readers will find it most useful as a quick reference for some specific subject matter of interest, which they can retrieve without the need for reviewing all the preceding chapters. I welcome the timely arrival of this authoritative handbook, which, by bringing together basic physiology and clinical application, will further facilitate the use of transcranial magnetic stimulation.

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