Encyclopedia of Neuroscience
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Encyclopedia of Neuroscience

Message from Editor-in-chief, Larry Squire

During the second half of the 20th century, the study of the nervous system moved from a peripheral position within the biological and psychological sciences to become an interdisciplinary field called neuroscience. The new discipline brought biochemists, cell biologists, anatomists, physiologists, psychologists, neurologists, and psychiatrists—scientists and clinicians from diverse backgrounds—all drawn to the promise and excitement of studying the brain. They aimed to discover the mechanisms of neuronal function, elucidate the neural substrates of behavior and cognition, and learn about the diseases of the nervous system. The development of the discipline was catalyzed in 1969 by the formation of the Society for Neuroscience, which now has nearly 37,000 members. The first academic training programs for neuroscience were established in medical schools (the Department of Neurosciences at the University of California, San Diego in 1965 and the Department of Neurobiology at Harvard University in 1966). The first undergraduate training programs in neuroscience were established in 1972 at Amherst College and at Oberlin College, alma mater of Nobelist Roger Sperry and three Past-Presidents of the Society for Neuroscience. Today, there are more than 300 neuroscience departments and programs around the world.

The Encyclopedia of Neuroscience is intended to catalog and explicate the rich, diverse subject matter of the discipline and to facilitate communication among its subspecialties. It is meant to be an authoritative source of information for all areas of neuroscience. It will hopefully make neuroscience more accessible to a wide range of readers, from students making their first acquaintance with the field to general readers seeking information about specific topics. It should also serve as a useful reference for working neuroscientists and be useful as well to undergraduate and graduate students in neuroscience training programs, teachers in the life sciences, clinicians, and science writers.

The Encyclopedia of Neuroscience appears in 12 volumes and includes nearly 1500 entries. The full work will also be published on-line at Science Direct, which can be accessed with subscription at sciencedirect.com. To assemble the entries, the Senior Editors identified 46 major areas of the discipline and then invited 46 Associate Editors, all experts in their field, to survey the content of neuroscience within each of these areas. Each Associate Editor then invited 30 to 40 authors to prepare articles on specific topics, with the objective of obtaining complete coverage for each area. Many of the authors are the recognized leaders in their field. The result is a compendium of expert articles representing the current world of neuroscience—the most important research, the most powerful tools, and the most promising applications.

Most of the entries are self-contained reviews that can be read as independent articles. Extensive cross-listing at the conclusion of each entry directs readers to articles on related topics. The principal organization of the Encyclopedia lies in the alphabetically arranged list of entries. In addition, the comprehensive subject classification will help readers find related topics and appreciate the structure of the discipline.

While no single reference work in neuroscience can claim to include every notable idea and fact about the brain, the Senior Editors hope that these volumes provide a summary of contemporary neuroscience that is both comprehensive and instructive. Neuroscience is still a developing field, but the Encyclopedia will have succeeded if it conveys the considerable promise that neuroscience offers for conquering the diseases that affect the nervous system and for understanding the brain, the mind, and ourselves.

The Senior Editors are grateful to the Developmental Editors at Elsevier, Michael Bevan and Joanna de Souza, and the Editorial Assistant, Caroline Phipps, for capably managing the formidable task of assembling and organizing the contents of the Encyclopedia. Andrew Lowe, the Production Product Manager diligently brought both the print and on-line versions of the project through its several stages of production.

Larry R. Squire

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