Recommend me some recent books on cognitive science.
June 20, 2006 10:24 AM   Subscribe

Can anyone recommend any good, recent popular science (or undergrad/grad level) books about the way in which our brains work?

I'm up-to-date with the computational side of things. But my batchelor's was 10 years ago now so I am aware that neuroscience, psychology and philosophy will all have moved on. I'm thinking along the lines of "Consciousness Explained" (Dennett, '92), "How the Mind Works" (Pinker, '99), "In the palaces of memory" (Johnson, '92). But more recent. Like, at least this century.
posted by handee to Science & Nature (11 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
A brief list:

On Intelligence
"carefully articulates a theory of consciousness and intelligence that offers radical options for future researchers"
(an abstract theory of how the brain works; a curious read if nothing else)

Perceptual Neuroscience : The Cerebral Cortex
"a lucid summary of what is known about the neural basis of perception in a beautifully written and wonderfully illustrated work."
(not quite a popular science work, but worth a look)

The Cognitive Neurosciences III
"This (sizable) book is the third in a series of updates that are published every five years and whose goal is to delineate in as much detail as possible the status of research in cognitive neuroscience."
(pretty much the definitive source)

I would also suggest, since you seem upto it, to peruse through past issues of Nature Reviews Neuroscience. Readable & Up-to-date. Trends in Neuroscience is another nice journal. Finally, there's Behavioral and Brain Sciences that features an interesting format known as Open Peer Commentary ("Particularly significant and controversial pieces of work are published from researchers in any area of psychology, neuroscience, behavioural biology or cognitive science, together with 10–25 commentaries on each article from specialists within and across these disciplines, plus the author's response to them.").
posted by Gyan at 10:47 AM on June 20, 2006

That first link weirdly goes to Erowid. It should be this.
posted by Gyan at 10:49 AM on June 20, 2006

The Three-Pound Enigma: The Human Brain and the Quest to Unlock Its Mysteries

Just came out this spring. The author visits with big names in modern neuroscience to get a snapshot of the latest breakthroughs, and has a helpful set of chapters that parallel the book's narrative to provide an overview of stages of brain development for those who need a refresher (or never studied the stuff to begin with). It manages a nice balance between dry/academic/undigestible and overly simplistic pop/fluff.
posted by pineapple at 11:51 AM on June 20, 2006 [1 favorite]

How Brains Make Up Their Minds by Walter J. Freeman
posted by mattbucher at 12:05 PM on June 20, 2006

On the popular side, I'd recommend Jay Ingram's Theatre of the Mind: Raising the Curtain on Consciousness.

Jay Ingram was David Suzuki's successor on CBC's Quirks and Quarks. I'm not a scientist by any stretch of the imagination, but I love Jay's writing and his ability to teach popular science.

The website has a brief excerpt.
posted by Robot Johnny at 12:10 PM on June 20, 2006

A General Theory of Love, by Thomas Lewis, Fari Amini and Richard Lannon. I'm not a science major, but I found it incredibly interesting. From the Publisher's Weekly review:

"In this stimulating work, psychiatrists Lewis, Amini and Lannon explain how and why our brains have evolved to require consistent bonding and nurturing. They contend that close emotional connections actually change neural patterns in those who engage in them, affecting our sense of self and making empathy and socialization possible."
posted by lemoncello at 12:43 PM on June 20, 2006

On the slightly more "big picture, not hardcore neuroscience" side:

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking investigates the concept of "thin slicing" -- the way the brain makes incredibly fast high level judgements that are quite accurate, and how it works...
posted by twiggy at 5:17 PM on June 20, 2006

Descartes' Error, by Antonio Damasio. Describes the relationship between emotions and higher level thinking, using anecdotes of patients, similarly to Oliver Sacks' stuff. Descartes' error, of course, was trying to separate the mind from the body... not exactly news today, of course, but it makes an interesting case for one partial neurobiological breakdown of consciousness.
posted by gsteff at 9:02 PM on June 20, 2006

Carlson's Physiology of Behavior is really good.
posted by Human Flesh at 4:32 AM on June 21, 2006

You might enjoy Brain-Wise: Studies in Neurophilosophy if you can forgive the awful cover art.
posted by Human Flesh at 4:36 AM on June 21, 2006

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