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Neurobiology and Neurology

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New Essays on Its Nature and the Methodology of Its Study
Edited by Murat Aydede

What does feeling a sharp pain in one's hand have in common with seeing a red apple on the table? Some say not much, apart from the fact that they are both conscious experiences. To see an object is to perceive an extramental reality—in this case, a red apple. To feel a pain, by contrast, is to undergo a conscious experience that doesn't necessarily relate the subject to an objective reality. Perceptualists, however, dispute this. They say that both experiences are forms of perception of an objective reality.

A Foundation for Motor Learning

Neuroscience involves the study of the nervous system, and its topics range from genetics to inferential reasoning. At its heart, however, lies a search for understanding how the environment affects the nervous system and how the nervous system, in turn, empowers us to interact with and alter our environment. This empowerment requires motor learning. The Computational Neurobiology of Reaching and Pointing addresses the neural mechanisms of one important form of motor learning.

The folk belief that the left brain hemisphere is dominant for language and the right for visuospatial functions is incomplete and even misleading. Research shows that asymmetries exist at all levels of the nervous system and apply to emotional as well as to higher cognitive processes. Going beyond the authors' previous book, Brain Asymmetry, this book reflects the most recent thinking on functional asymmetries and their structural correlates in brain anatomy.

The Collected Papers of Wilfrid Rall with Commentaries

Wilfrid Rall was a pioneer in establishing the integrative functions of neuronal dendrites that have provided a foundation for neurobiology in general and computational neuroscience in particular. This collection of fifteen previously published papers, some of them not widely available, have been carefully chosen and annotated by Rall's colleagues and other leading neuroscientists.

Allostatic Regulation in Physiology and Pathophysiology

Homeostasis, a key concept in biology, refers to the tendency toward stability in the various bodily states that make up the internal environment. Examples include temperature regulation and oxygen consumption. The body's needs, however, do not remain constant. When an organism is under stress, the central nervous system works with the endocrine system to use resources to maintain the overall viability of the organism. The process accelerates the various systems' defenses of bodily viability, but can violate short-term homeostasis.

Chemically Altered States of Consciousness

In this book J. Allan Hobson offers a new understanding of altered states of consciousness based on knowledge of how our brain chemistry is balanced when we are awake and how that balance shifts when we fall asleep and dream. He draws on recent research that enables us to explain how psychedelic drugs work to disturb that balance and how similar imbalances may cause depression and schizophrenia. He also draws on work that expands our understanding of how certain drugs can correct imbalances and restore the brain's natural equilibrium.

Until recently, the vast majority of memory research used only university students and other young adults as subjects. Although such research successfully introduced new methodologies and theoretical concepts, it created a bias in our understanding of the lifespan development of memory. This book signals a departure from young-adult-centered research. It views the lifespan development of memory as a continuous process of growth and loss, where each phase of development raises unique questions favoring distinct research methods and theoretical approaches.

A Union of the Senses

For decades, scientists who heard about synesthesia hearing colors, tasting words, seeing colored pain just shrugged their shoulders or rolled their eyes. Now, as irrefutable evidence mounts that some healthy brains really do this, we are forced to ask how this squares with some cherished conceptions of neuroscience. These include binding, modularity, functionalism, blindsight, and consciousness. The good news is that when old theoretical structures fall, new light may flood in.

The traditional model of synapses as fixed structures has been replaced by a dynamic one in which synapses are constantly being deleted and replaced. This book, written by a leading researcher on the neurochemistry of schizophrenia, integrates material from neuroscience and cell biology to provide a comprehensive account of our current knowledge of the neurochemical basis of synaptic plasticity.

Perceptual learning is the specific and relatively permanent modification of perception and behavior following sensory experience. It encompasses parts of the learning process that are independent from conscious forms of learning and involve structural and/or functional changes in primary sensory cortices. A familiar example is the treatment for a "lazy" or crossed eye. Covering the good eye causes gradual improvement in the weaker eye’s cortical representations. If the good eye is patched too long, however, it learns to see less acutely.

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