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Abnormal Cortical Development and Epilepsy: from Basic to Clinical Science

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    Abnormal Cortical Development and Epilepsy: from Basic to Clinical Science. By r spreafico, g avanzini, and f andermann. (Pp 324, £39.00). Eastleigh: John Libbey,1999. ISBN 0 86916 579 5.

    One of the most interesting fields of research in epilepsy in the past 5 years or so has concerned cortical dysgeneses. In some series of chronic epilepsy, overt dysgenesis underlies 15% of all epilepsies, and more subtle forms might account for some apparently cryptogenic cases. This book is therefore timely. It is a record of the proceedings of a conference held in Venice in October 1997, within the framework of the Mariani Foundation Colloquia in Childhood Epilepsy. The book is organised into sections on cortical development, animal models, electroclinical imaging and neuropathological studies, genetics, and surgical treatment. The faculty and chapter authors are distinguished figures in this research field largely from the United States, Canada, and Italy.

    The recognition of the importance of these conditions in epilepsy has been due to the introduction of structural MRI and also the advances in understanding of the processes of cortical development. The second field particularly is one in which advances are being made rapidly, both clinically and in the laboratory, and the authors and editors do a superb job in marshalling this information into a readable and well organised form. I found many of the chapters exceptionally interesting. The heavy emphasis on molecular genetics and pathology is appropriate in this area and is a model for how the modem topics of epilepsy should be approached.

    My only reservation about the book is that in this fast moving field some of the basic science and genetic data are already out of date, but otherwise the information is of high standard. The clinical chapters are exemplary, however, and I particularly enjoyed the two fascinating chapters on surgery for epilepsy in cases with dysgenesis. A minor grumble about the book is not about the content, but the poor standard of book production (a common trend in medical books), with for instance horrible margins and without a list of contributors. In all other ways though, this is a superb book, and one which I thoroughly and wholeheartedly recommend to both clinical and basic scientists. It is a definitive contribution to this important area.