Brain Science Podcast discussion

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FAQ > Books for Beginners?

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message 1: by Ginger (new)

Ginger Campbell (GingerCampbell) | 313 comments Mod
A few days ago I got a message on Twitter asking for suggestions for beginner level books about neuroscience. While I am giving this some thought, I wanted to open the question up for your suggestions.


message 2: by Brad (new)

Brad (Yiggy) | 1 comments The Synaptic Self by Joseph LeDoux is great. First neuro book I ever read, opened my eyes in a lot of ways.


message 3: by Alfredo (new)

Alfredo | 3 comments The good news is that the amount of information at various beginning levels is fantastic. This calls for the question: what are you most interested on?

So my first recommendation would be a very coloquial one that exposes you to many aspects in a down-to-earth manner: how you live every day with your brain and the various neurology aspects that participate.

The Scientific American Day in the Life of Your Brain.
HORSTMAN Judith
San Francisco, California: Jossey-Bass.
2009

I believe that other (more recent) editions are available.


message 4: by Nick (new)

Nick | 4 comments Hey Alfredo,

That book's introduction talks about concepts I have learned on my course and from the brain rules book - but looks like it goes a bit deeper than those. Therefore I am just about to place my order :)

Thanks


message 5: by Ginger (new)

Ginger Campbell (GingerCampbell) | 313 comments Mod
NIck,

I haven't had a chance to make my contributions to this discussion yet. But I want to mention that transcripts are available for all episodes of the Brain Science Podcast. Episodes 1-26 provide a good introduction to neuroscience, and quite a few books are featured. Someday I need to get around to posting a reading list on the website!

One book that I will recommend is Eric Kandel's In Search of Memory: The Emergence of a New Science of Mind. Kandel won a Nobel Prize in 2000 for his work on memory. This book combines autobiography with an overview of the development of modern neuroscience. It includes an excellent introduction to many key ideas.


message 6: by Nick (new)

Nick | 4 comments I'm loving that, Ginger :)

When I see this: "psychology, cognitive psychology, neuroscience, and molecular biology" That's enough to excite me.

I'll definitely be going through all the old podcast episodes too. I've been cherry picking them at the moment, but I have a list on itunes of what I've got through so far.

Thanks, thanks, thanksssss


message 7: by Leo (new)

Leo Abrantes (LAbrantes) | 4 comments Ginger wrote: "NIck,

I haven't had a chance to make my contributions to this discussion yet. But I want to mention that transcripts are available for all episodes of the Brain Science Podcast. Episodes 1-26 prov..."


I'm really interested in reading more about the impact of the new advances of neurology on philosophy of mind. You think that the Eric Kandel's book is a good way to start? Do you have more recommendations?
Thank you for your great podcast!
Leo


message 8: by Ginger (new)

Ginger Campbell (GingerCampbell) | 313 comments Mod
Leo wrote:

I'm really interested in reading more about the impact of the new advances of neurology on philosophy of mind. You think that the Eric Kandel's book is a good way to start? Do you have more recommendations?

While Kandel does not directly address philosophy of mind, his book will give you the beginning of a solid foundation in the science.

The book that really got me interested in the intersection of Philosophy of Mind was Consciousness: An Introduction by Susan Blackmore. I also recommend the writing of Patricia Churchland, who I interviewed in BSP 55.

More recent discussions of the implications of science include Out of Our Heads: Why You Are Not Your Brain, and Other Lessons from the Biology of Consciousness by Alva Noe (BSP 58) and The Ego Tunnel: The Science of the Mind and the Myth of the Self by Thomas Metzinger (BSP 67).


message 9: by Leo (new)

Leo Abrantes (LAbrantes) | 4 comments Ginger wrote: "Leo wrote:

I'm really interested in reading more about the impact of the new advances of neurology on philosophy of mind. You think that the Eric Kandel's book is a good way to start? Do you have ..."


Thank you so much for the recommendations, I will check the books you mentioned.


message 10: by [deleted user] (new)

Any recommendations for graduate level textbooks on neuroscience. The only one I can seem to find that is well regarded is Principles of Neuroscience by Kandel, but that is over a decade old now.

I am a doctorate level psychologist and would be interested in reading material that lays a more technical foundation than some of the layman-oriented books that are on the list. Though these are fascinating and well written works and certainly started the neuroscience bug, I want to read something a little more "chunky" and current. I have found either upper-division texts or some that are far too technical for someone outside of the academic discipline.

Any suggestions appreciated!

Thanks!


message 11: by Ginger (new)

Ginger Campbell (GingerCampbell) | 313 comments Mod
I recommend two books by Michael Gazzaniga. Actually he is the co-author of Cognitive Neuroscience(2008) and the editor of 4th edition of The Cognitive Neurosciences(2009). I have included links to Amazon so you can read the descriptions. The books are complimentary with the latter being a collection of writings from the leading researchers in all the main branches of cognitive neuroscience.


message 12: by [deleted user] (new)

Thank you very much! Time to do some ordering.


message 13: by Ginger (new)

Ginger Campbell (GingerCampbell) | 313 comments Mod
Docsid wrote: "Thank you very much! Time to do some ordering."

Sorry my suggestions are so expensive!


message 14: by Neurorehabguy (new)

Neurorehabguy | 3 comments How about these 2 books,

http://www.becomingbatman.com/

http://web.uvic.ca/~pzehr/ironman/ind...

More on the knowledge translation, public engagement side but certianly entertaining and engaging. Paul also happens to be my co-supervisor :o)


message 15: by Blaine (new)

Blaine | 9 comments Not sure what the definition of "beginner" is here but good summaries of the embodied mind approach to cognitive science are:

- The New Science of the Mind: From Extended Mind to Embodied Phenomenology, by Mark Rowlands
- Embodied Cognition, by Lawrence Shapiro
- Radical Emboided Cognitive Science, by Anthony Chemero
- The Embodied Mind: Cognitive Science and Human Experience, by Varela, Thompson, and Rosch

I can also recommend Evan Thompson's book "Mind in Life" which provides a broader grounding of embodied mind in the life sciences.

Loving this podcast! Thanks to Ginger.
Blaine


message 16: by Scott (new)

Scott | 21 comments Thanks, Blaine, for the above suggestions.

When I saw your opening line, I was hoping you'd include the Varela/Thompson/Rosch book. It's from 1991, but still lays out a description of the embodied approach in comparison to other paradigms in cognitive science.

Evan Thompson's "Mind in Life" was written as a follow-up to "The Embodied Mind." Thompson and Varela had intended to do it together but Varela passed away in 2001, so Thompson did it on his own but dedicated it to his mentor.

Varela, I believe, is under-appreciated for his wise and significant contributions to the field. It's hard to find, but there's a documentary about him by Franz Reichle called "Monte Grande." It weaves together footage of Varela's life with interviews at his family home in Chile and commentary from a huge variety of people he worked with.

Any way, I'll note the other volumes you mentioned since I found Varela's and Thompson's approaches so compelling.

Scott


message 17: by Blaine (new)

Blaine | 9 comments Scott wrote: "Thanks, Blaine, for the above suggestions.

When I saw your opening line, I was hoping you'd include the Varela/Thompson/Rosch book. It's from 1991, but still lays out a description of the embodie..."


Hey Scott... "Monte Grande" is an excellent film; I've had it for a while. I too am dismayed that Varela isn't more appreciated and recognized for his pioneering work in cybernetics, neuroscience, phenomenology, autopoiesis, self-organizing systems, and helping to break down the idiotic resistance to Buddhist philosophy and psychology among western academics. Don't forget Lakoff and Johnson's "Philosophy in the Flesh" and Mark Johnson's "The Meaning of the Body", both outstanding contributions to embodied cognition.

Cheers,
Blaine


message 18: by Scott (new)

Scott | 21 comments Blaine,

We've got very similar interests, I discovered after I posted my comment and went back to read your other posts.

As an Asian Studies major at Berkeley, I focused on Chinese History with an emphasis on Buddhism. I'd previously spent time at Tassajara and Green Gulch, both Soto Zen monasteries, where I began to suspect that there was a possible convergence between phenomenologist Western philosophers and Buddhist thought.

I was lucky enough to take George Lakoff's seminar at Berkeley, though I have to admit I've not read Johnson's work though I'm familiar with it.

I think Varela picked up where Gregory Bateson left off. They were both Scientists-in-Residence at William Thompson's Lindisfarne Institute on Long Island, one after the other. That's how Evan Thompson, then a teenager (son of William Thompson), met Varela.

I love Ginger's pod cast, which I've dipped in and out of from time to time over the last several years. I get the sense that she's also drawn toward the embodied approach. Several of her guests have had some connection, perhaps indirect, to Varela. A recent one was Alva Noe, who has collaborated with Evan Thompson.

I have an old Green Gulch buddy who now runs a brain-imaging lab at Yale, so I think there will be more and more appreciation of Buddhism's intellectual contributions among Western academics as more and more people get exposed to Buddhist thought in the West.

On another note, are you familiar with Stuart Kauffman's "Reinventing the Sacred?" in which one of the leaders of complexity theory finds reason to have a sense of "religious" awe at the creative (and NON-deterministic) potential of complex systems.

At the moment, I don't know how to get back to it, but several years ago, I created a huge set of Varela-related links in delicious. Someone on the Varela Facebook group discovered it and posted it, much to my delight.

It would be great if Ginger interviewed Evan Thompson for her podcast.

Scott


message 19: by Blaine (new)

Blaine | 9 comments Hey Scott, yes many similar interests. Great that you're studying and practicing both Asian traditions and philosophy and western cognitive science and philosophy of mind. The world needs more of us who bring Asian perspectives and concepts into western contexts as there is still such fear and ignorance surrounding Buddhist or Hindu-Indian philosophical thought.

I have practiced Buddhist meditation since the 1980s; I was ordained to teach in 2008 by my Tibetan teacher, Anam Thubten Rinpoche, and have been teaching small groups here since. I am mostly self taught in Buddhist thought, history and philosophy and have studied other nondual traditions such as Advaita Vedanta and Taoism.

Interesting about Evan Thompson. I became a big fan of Gregory Bateson's work in the early 80s which is when I was led to others doing systems theory, cybernetics, and the then-emerging self organizing and autopoietic perspectives, people such as Varela, Maturana, Prigogine, Jantsch, and others. Systems theory and cognitive science are long time interests of mine in addition to nondual philosophy of Asia.

I've downloaded and listened to a few of Ginger's interviews, so far have heard Lawrence Shapiro, Alva Noe, and Art Glenberg. Looking forward to several others. My sense is that the future belongs to the embodied mind approach and that the disembodied representationlist and computationalist approach will become a historical curiosity. We really should encourage Ginger to interview Evan Thompson but also George Lakoff, Mark Johnson, Mark Rowlands, Shaun Gallagher, John Searle, Thomas Nagel, Richard Davidson, Ken Azaiwa, Andy Clarke, David Chalmers - I could go on.

Haven't encountered Kauffman's "Reinventing the sacred" but it sounds intriguing. Love his other work in self organizing system theory. Ginger should interview him too! I spent a lot of time with Ken Wilber's integral theory and so am pretty familiar with various ways of understanding spiritual experience in a contemporary context. Wilber's stuff is problematic in some ways but on the whole he has made huge important contributions to a larger understanding of spiritual experience.

All for now...
B


message 20: by Dustin (new)

Dustin Moraczewski | 5 comments I think Connectome but Seung is a good entry level book. I was actually a little disappointed how colloquial it is but I had different expectations. Once I accepted it for what it was and began Sporns Networks in the Brain to wet my advanced neuro appetite I am rather enjoying it. I usually read it for 20 or 30 mins right before bed to wind down and not think too hard.

I also think that A Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor is a good beginner book. It is short but fascinating. If you haven't heard about it, the author was a neuroanatomist at Harvard and she had a massive stroke. She survived and wrote a memoir about the experience. Her comment on the experience of losing her abilities during the stroke is just wild. Then, once in the hospital, the book turns to how she wanted people to treat her during her recovery.


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