It has been remarked that if the brain were so simple we could understand it, we would be so simple we couldn’t. Commencing with a brief history of neuroscience, from the ancient practice of drilling holes in the head to relieve headaches to the latest results from MRI and CT scans, this accessible guide sets out to explore exactly what we do know about the brain. Including the most up-to-date research on the cerebral processes behind a wide array of human activity from our capacity for language to how we remember this lively and entertaining introduction assumes no previous scientific knowledge and offers a tantalizing glimpse into man’s most complex organ. Ammar Al-Chalabi is Honourary Consultant Neurologist at King’s College Hospital, and a Senior Lecturer at the Institute of Psychiatry, London. R. Shane Delamont is a Consultant Neurologist at King’s College Hospital, and Martin Turner is Wellcome Fellow in Neurology at The Institute of Psychiatry. All three have extensive experience of teaching the key principles of neuroscience, and between them their specialist fields of expertise cover all of the main areas of contemporary brain research.
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For beginners who know little about brains, this relatively brief book is certainly a good guide.The book covers most, if not all, of the major topics that a beginner interested in the brain would want to know: the history of neuroscience; the structure and functions of neurons; the development, anatomy, and supporting structures of the brain; the motor and sensory systems; memory; sleep; emotions; behavior; reasoning; and, of course, consciousness.Sure, one can learn about such topics at a high level elsewhere for free (Wikipedia, anyone?), but the book combines them in one place and it covers them, and when necessary, some background topics, elegantly. Some topics are not covered in great depth, but this book isn't required to do so: it's a "beginner's guide" after all. Nevertheless, it doesn't shy away from some profound philosophical discussions, especially in the chapter about consciousness.On the negative side, there is a lack of explicit references to the studies mentioned throughout the book; apart from the "further reading" appendix and the references at the end the "Eric Chudler's brain facts and figures" one, there are no explicit references. Perhaps I'm asking too much from a guide targeted at beginners, but such references would make it much easier to locate and check the original studies, which is necessary if one wants to determine whether the guide's authors made the correct inferences or not.Overall, this informative book does a good job at leading the reader to an understanding of neurons, brains, and brain function. If you know little about brains and want to know more, this book is highly recommended.more