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Neural Darwinism: The Theory Of Neuronal Group Selection [Hardcover]

by Gerald Edelman
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Book Description

December 6, 1987 0465049346 978-0465049349 New edition
Already the subject of considerable pre-publication discussion, this magisterial work by one of the nation’s leading neuroscientists presents a radically new view of the function of the brain and nervous system. Its central idea is that the nervous system in each individual operates as a selective system resembling natural selection in evolution, but operating by different mechanisms. By providing a fundamental neural basis for categorization of the things of this world it unifies perception, action, and learning. The theory also completely revises our view of memory, which it considers to be a dynamic process of recategorization rather than a replicative store of attributes. This has deep implications for the interpretation of various psychological states from attention to dreaming.Neural Darwinism ranges over many disciplines, focusing on key problems in developmental and evolutionary biology, anatomy, physiology, ethology, and psychology. This book should therefore prove indispensable to advanced undergraduate and graduate students in these fields, to students of medicine, and to those in the social sciences concerned with the relation of behavior to biology. Beyond that, this far-ranging theory of brain function is bound to stimulate renewed discussions of such philosophical issues as the mind-body problem, the origins of knowledge, and the perceptual basis of language.

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Gerald M. Edelman is director of the Neurosciences Institute and chairman of the Department of Neurobiology at the Scripps Research Institute. He received the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1972. He is also the author of Bright Air, Brilliant Fire; Tobiology; and The Remembered Present.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; New edition edition (December 6, 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465049346
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465049349
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.4 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #821,260 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
The distinguished Nobel Laureate proposes a global brain theory that demonstrates that the brain does not work like a computer but rather operates under principles of selection that assure individuality, autonomy, imagination, etc. Since this book was published in 1986, the essentials of its proposals have been confirmed and absorbed at almost all levels of neurobiological and psychological inquiry. More accessible are two subsequent books, "The Remembered Present" and "Bright Air, Brilliant Fire"
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31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not an easy read, but worth the effort October 14, 1998
Mike Vanier's experience with Edelman's prose gave the typical bioassay result: its hard to read Edelman's books. I often try to imagine the state of mind of people in 1875 who tried to wade through Darwin's "Origin of Species" or someone who came across the work of Gregor Mendel in the 1890's. Unfortunately for the Science of Mind, Mike is just the kind of person Edelman might have hoped to be able to reach. Well, Mike, did you read right through the Bible (or substitute "Your First Calculus Textbook" for "Bible") the first time you picked it up? There really is a forest in "Neural Darwinism" once you get past the trees.
The claim "his ideas are neither new, nor original, nor correct" is one of the standard put-downs of the academic world. Anyone who works on non-trivial scientific issues and is intelectually honest will admit that his work in based on ideas taken from others and that his work is incomplete and contains errors. Edelman makes these admissions. Edelman's ideas about how brains can learn and function to produce what we experience as minds are positive contributions to science and worth getting to know.
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Grounding Psychology in Neuroscience November 8, 2002
Nobelist Gerald Edelman "theory of neuronal group selection" can be taken to provide a neurological understanding for psychoanalytic theory and experience. Because of the dense overlapping of dendrites and
axons in gray matter, a given area of cortex is capable of a varying
array of responses to a given input. Of the many possible responses,
one inevitably leads to the strongest, most adaptive, or rewarding
output. Suppose that this "fittest" response were "selected" for
synaptic changes enhancing the likelihood of future firing of just
that pattern of response when the same or similar input next arrives.
That pattern of function would have "won" in a Darwinian competition
to dominate the activity of that group of neurons when those same or
similar experiential conditions occur again. (I hope the reader can
hear in this a basis for transference experience: the neuronal response previously selected, perhaps by childhood experience, will be reactivated again in the future under specifically evocative conditions.)
We can thus anticipate a direct neurophysiologic account for how
"object relations" may in part derive from internalized__introjected__ experiences with objects and with their functions. Each experience in present real time consists of, is generated by, and resides in the activation of neural groups, interconnected in an ad-hoc network, distributed throughout the brain anatomically, and thus involving many functions of sensation, perception, motor function, emotion and cognition.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Serious and robust July 16, 2010
By jpbabe
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
It seems complicated, but it is not. Edelman deserves to be read. Precise and humble writing. Strong arguments.
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