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Circadian Physiology

2nd Edition, October 21, 2005

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Active, Most Current

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ISBN: 978-0-8493-2233-4
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Product Details:

  • Revision: 2nd Edition, October 21, 2005
  • Published Date: October 21, 2005
  • Status: Active, Most Current
  • Document Language: English
  • Published By: CRC Press (CRC)
  • Page Count: 689
  • ANSI Approved: No
  • DoD Adopted: No

Description / Abstract:


It has been 6 years since the publication of the first edition of Circadian Physiology . Based on sales figures and comments from readers, it seems clear that the book achieved its goal of serving as a concise but rigorous review of basic and applied research on circadian rhythms. Its accessible language and minimal requirement of background knowledge have allowed it to serve both as a brief handbook for experienced life scientists expanding their research efforts into the study of circadian rhythms and as a short textbook for undergraduate and graduate students.

Several excellent books on circadian rhythms have been published in the past 6 years. Some are very readable but are targeted at general audiences that have no interest in physiological or molecular mechanisms. Others are very rigorous in content but lack a comprehensive coverage of the field or adopt a writing style inaccessible to nonspecialists and students. Circadian Physiology remains the only book in press that successfully combines thorough and detailed coverage with an accessible writing style, providing a truly integrated view of the discipline that only a single-author book can achieve.

This second edition of Circadian Physiology not only updates the material covered in the original one - incorporating many new experimental findings, such as the discovery of new retinal photoreceptors, the identification of several non-hypothalamic circadian pacemakers, and the elucidation of genomic and proteomic mechanisms of biological timing - but also expands its scope. With 184 pages and 13 figures, the first edition had to omit much of the detailed information required for the acquisition of in-depth knowledge of the field. The present edition, with over 700 pages, 700 figures, and 5,000 bibliographic references, can aspire to be a true handbook of circadian physiology without giving up the important features of accessible language and minimal requirement of background knowledge. This edition can be more effective than the first one as a textbook for undergraduate students, more comprehensive as a handbook for life scientists, more educational as a trade book for general readers, and more pragmatic as a reference text for medical, psychological, and veterinary practitioners. Of course, no book can provide truly exhaustive coverage of a scientific discipline. Readers interested in more detailed information about the topics covered in this book will benefit from the detailed referencing of original sources by bibliographic footnotes in each chapter.

To facilitate its use as a textbook, this book contains summaries, suggestions for further readings, directions to pertinent web sites, and exercises at the end of each chapter. A CD-ROM included in the book provides a suite of computer programs designed to offer practical experience in a variety of topics. Instructions for software installation are given in a separate section before the first chapter, and programs for data analysis - as well as tutorials and simulation programs - are introduced at the appropriate points in the various chapters. A Dictionary of Circadian Physiology - with information on meaning, etymology, and pronunciation - is included at the end of the book. For the benefit of international readers, the Dictionary includes a table of equivalency of major circadian physiology terms in eight foreign languages. Also included are lists of standard international units of measurement and of conversion factors for various British units that are still in use in the United States. Readers - both researchers and students - are also encouraged to visit my laboratory's web site (www.circadian.org) and to use the e-mail link to send me queries about specific issues.

The organization of this edition is similar to that of the first edition, which was praised by several reviewers. The book is divided into 5 parts, each with several chapters (see Figure). The first part covers historical and methodological topics in the study of circadian rhythms. The second part deals with the phenomenology of biological rhythms, i.e., the description of the multiplicity of rhythmic phenomena in living organisms - including infradian, circadian, and ultradian rhythms. The third part addresses the physiological mechanisms, both endogenous and environmental, that control circadian rhythms. The fourth part provides a look into the physical substrates of circadian rhythms at the level of organs, cells, and molecules. Finally, the fifth part covers the multiple applications of circadian physiology in the planning of optimal times for physical and intellectual activity, the prevention of jet lag, the management of shift work, the treatment of sleep disorders, and many other endeavors.

Some readers have pointed out to me that the conciseness of the first edition was one of its most valuable features. For these readers, the expanded second edition may not be as attractive as the first one. However, I believe that the readability, not the brevity, of the first edition was its major asset, and I strived to make the second edition just as readable as the first one - if not more so. As a matter of fact, the highly interdisciplinary nature of the study of circadian rhythms makes this study not only exciting but also challenging. The breath of life-sciences background required in this enterprise practically eliminates the learning advantage that researchers experienced in other areas might have over bright but unexperienced undergraduate students. Consequently, it is quite appropriate to write Circadian Physiology as a book accessible to a wide audience. Brief reviews of essential principles in physiology, biochemistry, molecular biology, neuroscience, statistics, computer science, and philosophy of science are provided in Chapters 2 and 3 as part of the discussion of research methods and data analysis procedures in circadian physiology. Beyond these essential principles, the required background knowledge generally does not exceed that expected of first year university students (and, when it does, additional background material is provided). Still, individuals at different stages of their careers, and individuals in different occupations, will most likely have a greater interest in some parts of the book than in others. Thus, although I strongly recommend that the book be read from beginning to end, I provide the following table with what I believe to be the most interesting chapters for different audiences:

Professors adopting this edition of Circadian Physiology as a textbook will notice that 17 chapters are 2 chapters more than the 15 weeks of a typical university course. I felt that forcing the material into 15 chapters would disrupt the natural organization of the topics covered in the book without providing any real benefit, as many professors do not place equal emphasis on every chapter and often skip a few chapters or combine two chapters in one week. The choice of how to organize the course should rightfully remain the prerogative of the professor, not of the author of the textbook. Arrangement of the material into 17 thematically oriented chapters allows the book to present a well-organized view of the field that will be valuable not only to students but also to general readers, medical practitioners, and life scientists who are expanding their research programs into the study of circadian rhythms. Preparation of class schedules can be facilitated by consultation of the table below. The length of each chapter is indicated as the approximate number of text words (in thousands).

Inspection of the table readily suggests a possible schedule of classes: one chapter per week for the first 13 weeks and two chapters per week for the last two weeks. Extra time for additional activities would be available on weeks 8 and 11 (when the chapters are relatively short). Of course, the professor should take into consideration not only the length but also the complexity of the material in each chapter. As much as I tried to make all chapters equally readable, readers with different backgrounds may find some chapters to be "denser" than others. I hope that all readers - novices as well as experts - will enjoy and benefit from reading this book as much as I enjoyed and benefited from writing it. I believe that I have not only compiled a rigorous, scholarly selection of facts and theories in circadian physiology - with thorough documentation through figures and bibliographic references - but have also clearly conveyed the importance and the fascination of past and current studies on the all-encompassing process of circadian rhythmicity.