Recommended Reading for
Some of these are perhaps only peripherally
related to the neurosciences, but I think they all shed some light on concepts
we are trying to understand in neuroscience proper.
of Wonder: Inside the Neural Network Revolution
by William F. Allman
This is a very good book for anyone
interested in learning about the diversity of interests in the neurosciences.
Each chapter focuses on a different aspect of neuroscience (e.g., neural
nets, animal studies, cell cultures, etc.). The author conducts interviews
with and visits the labs of many of the most interesting researchers in
their respective sub-disciplines. It's a fascinating overview of
this overwhelmingly broad field.
See also a review here
Separate Creation: The Search for the Biological Origins of Sexual
by Chandler Burr
This is perhaps one of the best
books I have ever read with respect to scientific research. The author
presents a thorough and compelling account of the science (and politics)
underlying the search for the basis of sexual orientation. Chandler
Burr spent years interviewing and visiting with some of the most prominent
researchers (e.g., Dean Hamer, Simon LeVay, etc.) in their labs and in
the field in order to shed light on the complexities of this (foolishly)
in the Cognitive Neurosciences
by Michael S. Gazzaniga (ed.)
This is a collection of interviews
with important neuroscientists in the field that were original published
in The Journal of Cognitive Neurosciences. Chapters cover aspects
of cognition including language, addiction, and learning and memory.
The discussions are fairly technical, but the conversational tone of the
dialogues makes the material highly accesable.
by Desmond Morris
In addition to being a great book
for new parents (or parents-to-be), it is just plain fascinating for anyone
interested in developmental biology, neuroscience, and psychology.
Each chapter puts forward a question and attempts to answer it from the
broad range of scientific perspectives and knowledge. You cannot
read this book without learning a lot about things your probably took for
by Desmond Morris
This is less a neuroscience text
than an examination of humanity from a zoological perspective. This
is a great read for those interested in evolutionary comparisons across
our primate cousins. Morris reviews the literature contrasting various
features of human existence (e.g, social norms, language, sexuality, etc.)
and how they came to their present form.
Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat
by Oliver Sachs
There is no better collection
of interesting neurological case studies than this series of vingettes
by Oliver Sachs. Each of these chapters could stand on its own as
a lesson in neuroscience. The book is not overly technical, but it
communicates the relevant principles fairly thoroughly just the same.
It is a very easy read that gets at what makes us human.
Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence
by Carl Sagan
While this short text is sometime
criticized for the fact that its high-profile author was writing outside
of his discipline, this is definitely worth-while reading. This Pulitzer
Prize-winning book reviews thoughts about the evolution origins and nature
of human intelligence. Sagan also speculates about where we go from
Left-Hander Syndrome: The Causes and Consequences of Left-Handedness
by Stanley Coren
Once again, this is not a neuroscience
book, strictly speaking. However, it touches on issues of development
and how seeming ordinary things (e.g., handness) can have effects on seemingly
unrelated phenomena (e.g., mortality rates, incidence of mental illness
and mental deficits). It does a great job of showing how difficult
questions are addressed when multiple variables come into play and causality
is difficult to establish. And, or course, it is essential reading
for any left-hander (like me!).