Off the Shelf: W. Otto Friesen

April 1, 2010 — W. Otto Friesen, biology professor, with co-author Jonathon A. Friesen, a systems analyst in Philadelphia, "NeuroDynamix II." Oxford University Press.

The membrane electrical potential is a central element in the functioning of all living cells, and temporal variations of this potential are crucial for signaling within the nervous systems of all animals. Electrical properties of nerve cells are covered in neurobiology courses, but because electrical concepts are complex and textbook illustrations are static, students often find neurophysiology intimidating and inaccessible.

In order to make neurophysiology less formidable and more accessible, University of Virginia biology professor W. Otto Friesen and Philadelphia systems analyst Jonathan A. Friesen developed a comprehensive approach that begins with the elements of electrical circuits. This approach is found in both this book and in NDX II, a modeling system that is available for free online and is largely platform-independent.

This book, together with its associated computer simulation lessons, teaches students about neurophysiological concepts, and then the online software further expands their knowledge through modeling experiments.

— By Anne Bromley