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Networks of the Brain [Hardcover]

Olaf Sporns
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

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Book Description

October 1, 2010 0262014696 978-0262014694 1

Over the last decade, the study of complex networks has expanded across diverse scientific fields. Increasingly, science is concerned with the structure, behavior, and evolution of complex systems ranging from cells to ecosystems. Modern network approaches are beginning to reveal fundamental principles of brain architecture and function, and in Networks of the Brain, Olaf Sporns describes how the integrative nature of brain function can be illuminated from a complex network perspective. Highlighting the many emerging points of contact between neuroscience and network science, the book serves to introduce network theory to neuroscientists and neuroscience to those working on theoretical network models.

Brain networks span the microscale of individual cells and synapses and the macroscale of cognitive systems and embodied cognition. Sporns emphasizes how networks connect levels of organization in the brain and how they link structure to function. In order to keep the book accessible and focused on the relevance to neuroscience of network approaches, he offers an informal and nonmathematical treatment of the subject. After describing the basic concepts of network theory and the fundamentals of brain connectivity, Sporns discusses how network approaches can reveal principles of brain architecture. He describes new links between network anatomy and function and investigates how networks shape complex brain dynamics and enable adaptive neural computation. The book documents the rapid pace of discovery and innovation while tracing the historical roots of the field.

The study of brain connectivity has already opened new avenues of study in neuroscience. Networks of the Brain offers a synthesis of the sciences of complex networks and the brain that will be an essential foundation for future research.

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Networks of the Brain + Discovering the Human Connectome + Connectome: How the Brain's Wiring Makes Us Who We Are
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Editorial Reviews


[ Networks of the Brain]'s most important contribution lies in connecting neuroscience with the science of networks.... This is where we should be looking for solutions to the great mysteries of life and the mind.

(American Scientist)

Networks of the Brain is a unique resource. It defines the nature and scope of one of the newest and most exciting research programs in cognitive neuroscience.

(Minds & Machines)

If you have not discovered this book yet, take a look. Highly recommended. Fascinating.

(Stan Wasserman Complexity and Social Networks Blog)

In Networks of the Brain, Olaf Sporns synthesizes two of the most exciting topics in science today and links the latest breakthroughs to their deep historical roots. A graceful, authoritative, and fascinating book.

(Steven Strogatz, Schurman Professor of Applied Mathematics, Cornell University, and author of Sync)

Sporns's book is a very important and scholarly contribution to our understanding of brain function. It offers a view of neuroscience that is breathtakingly broad and provides just the sort of perspective needed if we are to integrate knowledge of form cells, social groups, and everything in between. It lays out the evidence for a real paradigm shift in how we must pursue our understanding of the brain's workings.

(Marcus Raichle, Professor of Radiology, Neurology, Neurobiology and Biomedical Engineering, Washington University in St. Louis)

This excellent book instills a sense of excitement about understanding the brain in terms of network theory. Despite the fact it does not contain a single equation, one comes away from Sporns's book with a sense of insight and perspective rarely attained by treatments of this sort. In short, this is a resource of conceptual treasures for anyone interested in a modern understanding of the brain. It will be appreciated by students and seasoned academics alike.

(Karl Friston, Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging, University College London)

Written engagingly by a master at the top of his game, Sporns's book unites neural structure, function, connectivity, and dynamics into a single, quantitative, and coherent framework -- brain network science that goes a long way toward understanding the dynamic patterns of the brain that underlie behavior and cognition. Essential for the transdisciplinary neuroscientist of the future.

(J.A. Scott Kelso, author of Dynamic Patterns: The Self-Organization of Brain and Behavior and The Complementary Nature)

About the Author

Olaf Sporns is Provost Professor and Head of the Computational Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Indiana University. He is the author of Networks of the Brain (MIT Press, 2010).

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 424 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press; 1 edition (October 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262014696
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262014694
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 7.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #294,225 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Olaf Sporns was born in Kiel, Germany, in 1963. After pursuing an undergraduate degree in Biochemistry at the University of Tübingen, he received a PhD in neuroscience from Rockefeller University (New York) in 1990. Following his PhD, he conducted postdoctoral work at The Neurosciences Institute in New York and San Diego. Currently he is a Provost Professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Indiana University in Bloomington, a member of the Graduate Programs in Cognitive Science and Neuroscience, and an Adjunct Professor in the School of Informatics and Computing. He received the Distinguished Faculty Award from Indiana University's College of Arts and Sciences in 2008 and a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship in 2011.

Sporns' main research area is theoretical and computational neuroscience, with an emphasis on complex systems, brain connectivity, and neurorobotics. His work aims to uncover the network principles that underlie the architecture and function of the human brain. He is particularly interested in how the human connectome, the complete set of all structural connections of the human brain, shape and constrain functional brain dynamics, and how disruptions of anatomical connections may relate to neural and mental diseases. Sporns is a co-investigator in several federally and privately funded research projects as well as a contributor to a number of training grants. He teaches a broad range of undergraduate and graduate courses and has participated in several national and international summer schools in the areas of computational neuroscience and complex systems. Over his career, Sporns has authored over 130 peer-reviewed publications as well as the recent books "Networks of the Brain" and "Discovering the Human Connectome", both published by MIT Press. Sporns serves on the editorial boards of ten scientific journals, including as a Section Editor at PLoS ONE and Deputy Editor at PLoS Computational Biology.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
95 of 98 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Genuine brain networks and brain complexity December 8, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The label "networks" in the title of this impressive book may fail to fully capture the incredible richness of intricate (multi-scale) brain structure depicted here. Perhaps an added adjective like "genuine" might serve to contrast this work with the many "toy" neural networks illustrated in other publications. To get some idea of the complexity of the genuine brain networks discussed here, picture your living room fully packed top to bottom with centimeter scale worms representing (scaled up) axons linking 100 billion cell bodies. Your worm visitors occupy multiple intricate paths; many are short and form local worm societies (modules), but some cross the entire room and allow remote worm modules to interact non-locally.

Sporns asks what network science might tell us about the brain. He begins with a non mathematical overview of graph theory, "graphs" being mathematicians' abstract label for "networks." Sporns considers both structural (fixed wiring) and functional (dynamic) interactions between brain network nodes and modules. "Modules" are defined here as communities of nodes with large numbers of internal interconnections that may, in some cases, be viewed as "super nodes" or nodes defined at larger scales. To adopt the metaphor of human social networks, neurons are analogous to persons and the modules at various scales are analogous to neighborhoods, cities, and nations.

Like social systems, brain networks exhibit a striking (nested) hierarchical modularity, essentially small networks within larger networks within still larger networks, much like nested Russian dolls. This multi-scale structure may account for much of the brain's complex behavior.
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Excellent Book January 11, 2011
By bob
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book is an excellent coverage of brain networks, covering structural, functional, and effective connectivity and their respective dynamics. I am a neurobiologist but this book is presented in such a way that it builds up to complex subjects with topics and language that non-neuroscientists (for instance computer scientists and mathematicians) can understand. There are no equations in the book and yet the mathematical concepts are explained clearly so that they can be easily understood.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent for the lay reader as well March 2, 2011
By rodrigo
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I'm not a neuroscientist but have read a fair amount on the subject. This book was great, it builds up an understanding of networks in general and their application to brain science. It summarizes a lot of the latest science and makes claims that are largely in line with other authors I've read (e.g. Tononi, Gerald Edelman, Joaquin Fuster). In other words, from the perspective of someone on the sidelines, Sporns backs up the central claims with a whole lot of evidence. I'm very glad I read it and I plan on re-reading it soon to make sure it sinks in. Whatever little networks make up my brain got a good workout
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I work in neuroimaging. I've read this book cover to cover and I'm very impressed with the clarity of the writing.
Sporns tells you where he's going and summarizes each section so you are sure to get the main points. Each section leads into the next section.

The only chapter that did not provide enough background for me was Chapter 12 on Dynamics....clearly a difficult topic.

Thankyou Dr Sporns! You've opened up a whole new world to me.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Don't buy Kindle version! August 20, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This appears to be a fascinating book, but the Kindle version does not include the color plates, which is very disappointing, given that you must pay more for the Kindle version than a hard copy. I returned my Kindle version, and will be buying the hard copy instead.

Update: 9/13/11

After buying a hard copy of the book, I discovered that the color plates are indeed to be found in the Kindle version, at the very end of the book. It is unfortunate that Amazon does not include information about color illustrations in their online descriptions--the sample chapter that you can download for free does not always give any indication of whether color plates are included (according to the Amazon representative I spoke to, it's up to each publisher to decide whether or not to include color plates in the Kindle version).

In the end, I returned the hard copy and repurchased the Kindle version, because I mostly use Kindle on my Mac, which allows me to easily copy text and paste it into another document, saving me many hours of typing and editing by hand.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Truly Good Book! August 5, 2011
By Andrew
I read "Networks of the Brain" from cover-to-cover, and looked forward to reading more of it after each new chapter. Olaf Sporns has crafted a beautiful little book. The writing is some of the best I have seen. His style is clear and elegant, and he makes it all seem effortless. It is so very refreshing to see.
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Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
What really makes this book stand out for me is the caliber and detail of its extensive illustrations. Without them, the associated text would have been problematic to grasp readily or adequately for a non-specialist like me. Quite often here, individual illustrations have been partitioned into complementary views or logical sequences that greatly aid in solidifying the respective concepts or phenomena. While crediting the sources of particular illustrations, Sporns notes individually which of those figures have been redrawn. The resultant consistently of style considerably enhances reader discernment of their content. In all, this selection, composition, and editing of figures are exceptional as well as unique in my reading experience.

Given his extensive background in the subject or related research, the author has selected, integrated, and interpreted the significant findings of a broad range of ostensively esoteric research publications, and rendered them in a quite readable form. The fact that most of his references are journal articles, moreover, indicates the recency or provisional nature of much of the reported brain network characterizations and implications. Although the research contributions of Sporns himself are evident in the references cited, he nonetheless offers a balanced view that explores contending theses, interpretations, or uncertainties. I found his focus on networks, and their heterogeneous neural constructs and flexible dynamics, to be a vital and vivid unifying theme - from which his overall message issued quite coherently. Furthermore, his unified synthesis of network topology and dynamics constitutes the pivotal factor in a well-established framework for continuing research in brain science.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Cutting edge neuroscience
I have indicated the degree to which I have appreciated this purchase and how it his been of value to me. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Wayne
4.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding survey of neural networks, albeit a bit dense
This is an excellent book. I've had it for a while and finally got around to reading it. It took me a long time because it is rich with detail and is a captivating read. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Occasional Reviewer
5.0 out of 5 stars A theoretical framework firmly rooted in brain biology
This book is a tour de force, an ambitious and thorough review of the field of network neuroscience that everyone interested in cognitive neuroscience or related fields should... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Carlos Camara
4.0 out of 5 stars Heavily into graph theoretical aspects
I was hoping for a picture book with images of white matter tracts what I got was an argument for graph theory

Eminently readable
Published 14 months ago by Graeme E. Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars My comments on the book "Netwroks of the Brain"
My comment on the book "Netwroks of the Brain":
The book is an excellent book, with detailed descriptions with examples regarding the brain's neural networks,... Read more
Published 14 months ago by Uner Tan
3.0 out of 5 stars A confused explanation of network theory and neuroscience
In this book the author tries to connect network theory to neuroscience and in the process manages to obscure what it was he was focusing on. Read more
Published on November 26, 2011 by Taylor Ellwood
4.0 out of 5 stars The only disadvantage of this book is the author
This book is definitely filled up with lots of interesting information and is a very thorough overview of the current state of things in brain networks research. Read more
Published on March 13, 2011 by ringo-ring
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