I often get asked ‘how can I avoid common misunderstandings in neuroscience’ which I always think is a bit of an odd question because the answer is ‘learn a lot about neuroscience’.
This is easier than it sounds, of course, but if you want a solid introduction, a book by Mo Costandi called 50 Human Brain Ideas You Really Need to Know is an excellent starting point.
If you recognise the name Mo Costandi its because he has been writing the brilliant Neurophilosophy blog for the best part of the last decade as he’s moved from being a neurobiologist to a science journalist.
The book consists of 50 four page chapters each of which condenses a key area of neuroscience in a remarkably lucid way.
There is no pandering to the feint of heart in the selected topics (from free will to neural stem cells) but neither is there a glossing over of conflicting evidence or controversy.
You won’t get poorly researched hype here about ‘mirror neurons’ being ‘responsible for empathy’ or brain scans showing how the brain ‘lights up’ but you will get a concise, balanced and entertaining introduction to key concepts in neuroscience.
It’s worth noting that the book does not hand-hold you. It’s not a complete beginners guide. It’s aimed at a ‘smart high-school kid and up’ level but if that’s you, and you want to get to grips with the brain, this book is ideal.
Link to more details on 50 Human Brain Ideas You Really Need to Know.
3 thoughts on “A concise, solid grounding in neuroscience”
Disappointed it is only available in Kindle version in the UK and not Australia.
Just downloaded it from Amazon as a ebook.
What a bargain, too.
PS I live in Adelaide
It would be nice for a book that explains the origins of ‘neuroscience’ and that goes into detail on what the brain is actually doing, processing information.
Psychology has a fields of neuroscience
* Social neuroscience
* Cultural neuroscience
Psychiatry has fields of neuroscience
* Behavioral neuroscience
* Affective neuroscience
Neurology has fields of Neuroscience
* Computational neuroscience
* Molecular neuroscience
* Cognitive neuroscience
Out of all of these of fields, only neurology’s neuroscience fields actually produced something. Neural networking Software, used to train robots on assembly lines to solving complex mathmatical problems, commercial and scientific applications.
Functional (PET scans, QEEGs) and structural (MRI, Cat Scans) tests were created by engineers applying scientific knowlege from molecular and compuatational neurosciences to construct diagnostic tests for neurology.
Electroconvulsive therapy and lobotomy came out of Behavior Neuroscience, and are not used by any field but psychiatry. Treatments are easy to make, but the conditions they treated had no phsycial basis at the time, nor was there any explaniation for how they worked. Still today, there is no explaination for how ECT works. This is not how science or engineering works.
It makes you wonder for a kid wanting to go into neuroscience, how to deal with conflicting information…
Some of the fields are trying to mix subjective observations with objective observations, the results of course can’t be replicated because they used subjective observations.
A subjective rating scale for depression, for example (The Hamilton Depression rating scale), arbitrary turns words into numbers. How depressed do you feel today? How about 6 out of 10. The next observer can’t replicate this.
I think it would be nightmare to write a book that tries to explain how psychology and psychiatry got in there, and how to deal with that. I’d be afriad to try to explain the scientific method to a highschool student. After all, there are entire fields of neuroscience staffed with adults that aparently don’t abide by it.