If you touch something hot, it hurts. You snatch your hand away from the hot thing immediately. Obviously. But what is really happening, biologically—and emotionally? In Understanding Pain, Fernando Cervero explores the mechanisms and the meaning of pain. You touch something hot and your brain triggers a reflex action that causes you to withdraw your hand, protecting you from injury. That kind of pain, Cervero explains, is actually good for us; it acts as an alarm that warns us of danger and keeps us away from harm.
This introduction to neuroscience is unique in its emphasis on how we know what we know about the structure and function of the nervous system. What are the observations and experiments that have taught us about the brain and spinal cord?
What is does it mean to hear music in colors, to taste voices, to see each letter of the alphabet as a different color? These uncommon sensory experiences are examples of synesthesia, when two or more senses cooperate in perception. Once dismissed as imagination or delusion, metaphor or drug-induced hallucination, the experience of synesthesia has now been documented by scans of synesthetes' brains that show "crosstalk" between areas of the brain that do not normally communicate.
Although there is scientific consensus that genetic factors play a substantial role in an individual's vulnerability to drug or alcohol addiction, specific genetic variables linked to risk or resilience remain elusive. Understanding how genetic factors contribute to addiction may require focusing on intermediary mechanisms, or intermediate phenotypes, that connect genetic variation and risk for addiction. This book offers a comprehensive review of this mechanistic-centered approach and the most promising intermediate phenotypes identified in empirical research.
Despite major advances in methodology and thousands of published studies every year, treatment outcomes in schizophrenia have not improved over the last fifty years. Moreover, we still lack strategies for prevention and we do not yet understand how the interaction of genetic, developmental, and environmental factors contribute to the disorder. In this book, leading researchers consider conceptual and technical obstacles to progress in understanding schizophrenia and suggest novel strategies for advancing research and treatment.
This is not the usual kind of self-help book. Indeed, its major premise heeds a Zen master’s advice to be less self-centered. Yes, it is "one more book of words about Zen," as the author concedes, yet this book explains meditative practices from the perspective of a "neural Zen." The latest findings in brain research inform its suggestions.
In Infectious Behavior, neurobiologist Paul Patterson examines the involvement of the immune system in autism, schizophrenia, and major depressive disorder. Although genetic approaches to these diseases have garnered the lion's share of publicity and funding, scientists are uncovering evidence of the important avenues of communication between the brain and the immune system and their involvement in mental illness. Patterson focuses on this brain-immune crosstalk, exploring the possibility that it may help us understand the causes of these common, but still mysterious, diseases.
This book proposes a transdisciplinary approach to investigating human motor control that synthesizes musculoskeletal biomechanics and neural control. The authors argue that this integrated approach—which uses the framework of robotics to understand sensorimotor control problems—offers a more complete and accurate description than either a purely neural computational approach or a purely biomechanical one.
Reflection on the nature of hallucination has relevance for many traditional philosophical debates concerning the nature of the mind, perception, and our knowledge of the world. In recent years, neuroimaging techniques and scientific findings on the nature of hallucination, combined with interest in new philosophical theories of perception such as disjunctivism, have brought the topic of hallucination once more to the forefront of philosophical thinking.
Episodic memory proves essential for daily function, allowing us to remember where we parked the car, what time we walked the dog, or what a friend said earlier. In How We Remember, Michael Hasselmo draws on recent developments in neuroscience to present a new model describing the brain mechanisms for encoding and remembering such events as spatiotemporal trajectories.