Neurobehavioral Plasticity: Learning, Development, and Response to Brain Insults

By Norman E. Spear; Linda P. Spear et al. | Go to book overview
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of neurotoxic diseases reflect isolated events or are merely the most obvious examples of a widespread association between environmental chemicals and nervous system impairment. (p. 2)

In summary, current methods used to assess structural damage to the nervous system are well designed for the detection of traditionally defined neurotoxicity with hallmark lesions of the spinal cord and peripheral nerves. These methods entail a limited evaluation of the brain, however, and are not designed to discover the role of toxicants in the etiology of a wide variety of neurological diseases. Research that is directed at investigating links between chemical exposure and neurologic disorders is essential to developing better assessments of the neurotoxic potential of chemicals as well as to understanding of the kinds of hazards environmental pollutants pose to the public health.


This chapter is intended to give the basic neuroscientist a general idea of some of the issues concerning structural assessments in neurotoxicity studies required by the U.S. EPA. It provides a brief overview of why there is a need for neurotoxicity risk assessment, the process by which data from neurotoxicity testing is incorporated into risk assessment, and a synopsis of the neuropathology portion of EPA's neurotoxicity screening battery. Recent developments that may improve this process are described, as well as how basic neuroscience may help to elucidate the role of environmental pollutants in neurologic disease.


I would like to extend special thanks to Dr. William Sette for his comments, discussion, and sustained interest. I would also like to thank Drs. Linda Ide, Robert Isaacson, and Kevin Morgan for their valuable suggestions. This manuscript has been reviewed by the Health Effects Research Laboratory in the Office of Research and Development of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and approved for publication. Approval does not signify that the contents necessarily reflect the views and policies of the agency, nor does mention of trade names or commercial products constitute endorsement or recommendation for use.


Anthony D. C., & Graham D. G. ( 1991). "Toxic responses of the nervous system". In M. O. Amdur , J. Doull, & C. D. Klaasen (Eds.), Casarett and Doull's toxicology. The basic science of poisons (pp. 407-429). New York: Pergamon..


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Neurobehavioral Plasticity: Learning, Development, and Response to Brain Insults
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