Neurobiology for the kinda-sorta initiated
October 26, 2012 11:06 AM   Subscribe

Looking for the best neurobiology guides for non-scientists.

I've been reading lot of developmental neurobiology and psychology and am at an impasse where I can't delve much further than general audience material without a better grounding in neurobiology at the organizational, systemic and functional level.

I am looking for something that can provide some frame of reference and context for twisters like:

The hierarchical apex of this right lateralized cortical-subcortical system, the orbitofrontal cortex - the senior executive of the emotional brain functions as a dynamic filter of emotional stimuli...

...defensive parasympathetic dorsal vagal parasympathetic hypoarousal... (both are from Allan Shore)

So. Do I need an atlas, glossary/dictionary, encyclopedia, coloring book... all of these combined or something else entirely?

Ideally I'd love to find a solid, engaging, accessible book with illustrations and real-world examples. Web resources are okay as a supplement....but I tend to be a stronger book-in-hand learner.

Super bonus points: recommendations for iPhone quick-reference apps.

Thank You!
posted by space_cookie to Science & Nature (6 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
It sort of sounds like you just want a basic Neuro 1 textbook? This is my favorite, and if you poke around you should be able to get it for not too much money used.
posted by brainmouse at 11:11 AM on October 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

You need this: The Human Brain Coloring Book and probably an atlas. If you are reading imaging papers, I would also pick up Handbook of Functional Neuroimaging of Cognition (it's dated, but it will help you get your head around reading those kind of papers)
posted by Brent Parker at 11:15 AM on October 26, 2012

I recommend The Principles of Neural Science by Eric Kandel. It's the standard text for many neurobiology courses. I read parts of it in undergrad and also in medical school. The writing was clear and understanbable to people who study biology at a undergraduate level. It's a massive tome, but it is a pleasure to read if you have any interesting in neurobiology. It was really the only biomedical textbook I tried to read on my own initiative. Concidentally, the long awaited 2012 edition is out just today! Older edition should become cheaper soon.

As aside, Kandel is a Nobel Prize winner for his work on memory and also wrote interesting general science book for lay audience such as Age of Insight and In Search of Memory.
posted by Pantalaimon at 11:27 AM on October 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

Clinical Neuroanatomy Made Ridiculously Simple is a favorite with lots of the medical and psychological providers I know. It's really clear, has lots of great analogies and mnemonic devices to help you understand the material, yet it's still pretty comprehensive. I've used it for teaching beginning students and for studying for my own professional exams.
posted by goggie at 11:51 AM on October 26, 2012

I would actually recommend against the Human Brain Coloring book. It has far too much detail and far too little explanation or context for a beginner, and the lack of shading makes it difficult to get a grasp of the actual shapes of the different brain regions.

Like Pantalaimon, I used Principles of Neural Science in undergrad. It's a good resource, but its focus is more on the cellular level than on neuroanatomy—understanding the brain from the ground up using functional principles.

For your purposes, I would recommend Biological Psychology by James Kalat. It's geared more towards nonscientists. Definitely less detail than Principles of Neural Science, but also more approachable, and with a greater emphasis on understanding how the structure and function of the brain relate to behavior and disease states.
posted by dephlogisticated at 1:05 PM on October 26, 2012

If you're just trying to look up the component parts of Shore's references, you might find somewhat useful. I would recommend against Kandel & Schwartz for these purposes. That book is super dense and definitely focuses on a level of reduction far lower than the examples you mention.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 1:42 PM on October 26, 2012

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