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The Root of Thought: Andrew Koob

By Tim Beames What are you reading? 14 Aug 2014

What are you reading? (And what are you drinking with it?)

Root of thought image.aspx

 Tim Beames

Profession: Physiotherapist

Book title:The Root of Thought. Unlocking Glia, The Brain Cells That Will Help Us Strengthen Our Wits, Heal Injury and Treat Brain Disease

 Andrew Koob

What are you drinking with it?
 A decent flat white

Thoughts so far/Quote: 

This is a fantastic, short (important for slow readers like me!) book on the role of glial cells and in particular the astrocyte.

Andrew Koob paints a colourful picture of how astrocytes are at the heart of our thoughts, imagination learning and memory. They are integral for brain health and disease too.

Astrocytes, like muscles can be exercised. By thinking and concentrating at a task astrocytes demand more blood to keep them fed and energized and can encourage astrocytic growth. This growth and activity may be (partly) responsible for neuronal plasticity!

“Astrocytes are the basis for life in the brain. They self-replicate, are promiscuous, spit out progeny, and give us the ability to attempt to make sense of the world.”(p.70)


Much of what I understand to be effective elements of therapy and rehabilitation incorporates some form of sense making; exploring our environments, maintaining creativity and mental agility. From what you learn in this book these could all be ways of encouraging a healthy brain environment.

For the inner geek there’s some interesting biology to explore, relating to sensitisation, long-term potentiation and synaptogenesis and worthy mention of people like Kandel, Hebb, Bliss & Lomo. Importantly, Koob maintains a great balance between detail and the overall narrative.

This book helps provide a balance to the oft neurocentric position of brain function. My only criticism is the demonstration of property dualism towards astrocytes as the seat of thought. Still, a great read and what do I know!

Now for a book that requires the accompaniment of red wine….

-Tim Beames


Tim is the principal instructor for NOI UK and teaches the Explain Pain, Graded Motor Imagery, Mobilisation of the Nervous System and Neurodynamics and the Neuromatrix courses throughout the UK and Europe.

Tim lives in London where he works in private practice as co-founder of Pain and Performance providing treatment for people with persistent and complex pain problems, support and guidance for clinicians dealing with complex pain patients and delivering bespoke courses for departments and organisations on pain related topics. He is also interested in injury management and maximising performance in sport and has performed neurological screening for the English and Welsh rugby union squads. These diverse interests were fostered at King’s College London studying his Masters in Pain: Science & Society with Dr Mick Thacker. 

Tim is also co-author of the Graded Motor Imagery Handbook alongside Lorimer Moseley, David Butler and Tom Giles.

Tim has a very busy teaching schedule over the next few months as you can see from his list of upcoming courses below. To find out more or enquire about bookings go to the noigroup courses page.

5th Sep 2014
Explain Pain
**CLOSED COURSE**Epsom, England
27th Sep 2014
Mobilisation of the Nervous System
Lillestrøm, Norway
4th Oct 2014
Graded Motor Imagery
London, England
18th Oct 2014
Graded Motor Imagery
Århus, Denmark
7th Nov 2014
Explain Pain
**CLOSED COURSE**Leeds, England
15th Nov 2014
Explain Pain
Bournemouth, England
29th Nov 2014
Explain Pain
Lisbon, Portugal
6th Dec 2014
Explain Pain
London, England
7th Apr 2015
Explain Pain
Eemnes, Netherlands
18th Apr 2015
Graded Motor Imagery
London, England



  1. Lovely Tim…….The line that hit me was “Sense Making” ……beautiful as I feel in the clinical environment if we can help the sufferer to make sense of their experience we are on the home straight of recovery ……we might even tell them ” Wow that’s an impressive team of Astrocytes you’ve got there” …..

  2. davidbutler0noi

    Sounds like a good one Tim – I have ordered it immediately. There is really limited “easy reading” on the immune system since Field’s “The other Brain”



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