Although science has made considerable progress in discovering the neural basis of cognitive processes, how consciousness arises remains elusive. In this book, Cyriel Pennartz analyzes which aspects of conscious experience can be peeled away to access its core: the “hardest” aspect, the relationship between brain processes and the subjective, qualitative nature of consciousness. Pennartz traces the problem back to its historical roots in the foundations of neuroscience and connects early ideas on sensory processing to contemporary computational neuroscience.
Neuroscience research has exploded, with more than fifty thousand neuroscientists applying increasingly advanced methods. A mountain of new facts and mechanisms has emerged. And yet a principled framework to organize this knowledge has been missing. In this book, Peter Sterling and Simon Laughlin, two leading neuroscientists, strive to fill this gap, outlining a set of organizing principles to explain the whys of neural design that allow the brain to compute so efficiently.
The human brain is often described as the most complex object in the universe. Tens of billions of nerve cells-tiny tree-like structures—make up a massive network with enormous computational power. In this book, Giorgio Ascoli reveals another aspect of the human brain: the stunning beauty of its cellular form. Doing so, he makes a provocative claim about the mind-brain relationship.
Over the past decade, an explosion of empirical research in a variety of fields has allowed us to understand human moral sensibility as a sophisticated integration of cognitive, emotional, and motivational mechanisms shaped through evolution, development, and culture. Evolutionary biologists have shown that moral cognition evolved to aid cooperation; developmental psychologists have demonstrated that the elements that underpin morality are in place much earlier than we thought; and social neuroscientists have begun to map brain circuits implicated in moral decision making.
In Zen-Brain Horizons, James Austin draws on his decades of experience as a neurologist and Zen practitioner to clarify the benefits of meditative training. Austin integrates classical Buddhist literature with modern brain research, exploring the horizons of a living, neural Zen.
In the last decade, the synergistic interaction of neurosurgeons, engineers, and neuroscientists, combined with new technologies, has enabled scientists to study the awake, behaving human brain directly. These developments allow cognitive processes to be characterized at unprecedented resolution: single neuron activity. Direct observation of the human brain has already led to major insights into such aspects of brain function as perception, language, sleep, learning, memory, action, imagery, volition, and consciousness.
This introduction to the structure of the central nervous system demonstrates that the best way to learn how the brain is put together is to understand something about why. It explains why the brain is put together as it is by describing basic functions and key aspects of its evolution and development. This approach makes the structure of the brain and spinal cord more comprehensible as well as more interesting and memorable. The book offers a detailed outline of the neuroanatomy of vertebrates, especially mammals, that equips students for further explorations of the field.
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.
In this book, two leading authorities on the thalamus and its relationship to cortex build on their earlier findings to arrive at new ways of thinking about how the brain relates to the world, to cognition, and behavior. Based on foundations established earlier in their book Exploring the Thalamus and Its Role in Cortical Function, the authors consider the implications of these ground rules for thalamic inputs, thalamocortical connections, and cortical outputs.
Scientists' attempts to understand the physiology underlying our apprehension of the physical world was long dominated by a focus on the individual senses. The 1980s saw the beginning of systematic efforts to examine interactions among different sensory modalities at the level of the single neuron. And by the end of the 1990s, a recognizable and multidisciplinary field of "multisensory processes" had emerged.