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60 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE reference textbook for grad studies
I purchased the 4th edition of Principles of Neural Science back in 2001, when I was studying at McGill in cognitive science and neuroscience. This was the most useful introduction on the subject matter of neuroscience, and its amazing breadth and depth was sufficient to cover all the basics and find references for further readings on specific topics.

I used it...
Published 21 months ago by Sylvain Pronovost

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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Used for formal neuroscience education
This book covers fundamental aspects of neuroscience. Its purpose is to be conservative, so it doesn't delve into controversial, rare, or truly cutting edge research. Near every student and professor of neuroscience has this or its 4th edition.

Basically, an undergraduate degree in neuroscience consists of taking fundamental classes in chemistry, biology,...
Published 8 months ago by Allunknowing


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60 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE reference textbook for grad studies, December 11, 2012
This review is from: Principles of Neural Science, Fifth Edition (Principles of Neural Science (Kandel)) (Hardcover)
I purchased the 4th edition of Principles of Neural Science back in 2001, when I was studying at McGill in cognitive science and neuroscience. This was the most useful introduction on the subject matter of neuroscience, and its amazing breadth and depth was sufficient to cover all the basics and find references for further readings on specific topics.

I used it extensively when I started my PhD in cognitive science at Carleton University and had a challenging, full-year course in behavioral neuroscience. The fourth edition has aged well as an introduction, but the neuroscience community was longing for an update in a field which is less forgiving about years-old sources. It is sad that it took 12 years (!) for an update, but what an update it is!

The 5th edition clocks at 350 additional pages approximately, and while the original material has been preserved where it is required, it *has been updated*. Sections on cognitive processes and behavioral features have been added, more details on aging and neuropathologies/lesions, and of course, the artwork is wonderful. It is slightly more pedagogically-oriented, which was not even a shortcoming in the previous edition. Awesome updates on the reference material to cover the work between 2000 and 2008-ish (I know, it's not up to 2012, but that's how editing and publishing works, viz., slowly).

The icing on the cake is the new computational neuroscience stuff, which is to me invaluable, considering that I study cognitive science in general, and computational cognitive modeling in particular. Add appendices on the theory of neural wiring/engineering and computational modelling, and this is a good A+.

I might be biased, since I wanted this book to be awesome, but hey, they did it again.

Only gripe: at 1760 pages in hardcover format, it's heavy as hell and anyone under 125 pounds will likely hurt their back though, so carry this book in a cart or something ;-)

I wish there was an eBook format like epub or even pdf at an affordable price, at least for purchasers of the hardcover version! I would *love* to have this book on my iPad.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Used for formal neuroscience education, January 9, 2014
This review is from: Principles of Neural Science, Fifth Edition (Principles of Neural Science (Kandel)) (Hardcover)
This book covers fundamental aspects of neuroscience. Its purpose is to be conservative, so it doesn't delve into controversial, rare, or truly cutting edge research. Near every student and professor of neuroscience has this or its 4th edition.

Basically, an undergraduate degree in neuroscience consists of taking fundamental classes in chemistry, biology, physics, and psychology, as well as reading a big chunk of this book (the principles of neural science) and getting some neuroscience related lab experience (if the program is good). But, the neuroscience part of the neuroscience degree mostly has to do with reading lots of this huge book. A PhD in neuroscience consists of reading a million journal articles, conducting research, and often consulting the principles of neural science (mostly during the first year or two...I didn't, but most do). The book still remains on the desk or in the bookcase of even the most veteran researchers and professors , for there is no better way, in theory, to brush up on or become familiar with a traditional area of neuroscience quickly than starting with this book. Say I'm a new assistant professor and am asked to give a lecture on a neuroscience area far outside my specialty. First, I might quickly scan the topic in the principles of neural science; second, I might go to pubmed and read an up-to-date review on the topic; finally, I might focus in on a couple specific research papers in the area that most attract my curiosity. And bam. In three or four hours I've gone from not knowing a single thing about the topic to being able to give an hour long lecture or lead a discussion on it.

My purpose in writing that rambly note was to illustrate the potential relevance of the 'principles of neural science' to professional neuroscientists at every level. However, the series has some flaws, which mostly mirror some of the difficulties facing the field at large. It is bogged down with tons of excessive detail but is lacking in big picture concepts or recognized patterns to make sense of all the info. Don't get me wrong, I like all the details and know how many of them can directly connect up with biomedical applications. In the end though, readers should understand that this book currently reflects the vision that Eric Kandel has of neuroscience, which is quite radically reductionistic. Some like that; some don't.

Bottom Line:
I think the latest edition of this book makes an excellent cornerstone text for covering areas of molecular biology and cell physiology related to neuroscience for undergraduates. If you are pursuing an interest in neuroscience on your own because of your own curiosity, independent of the educational system, then I would not recommend this text (unless you have read quite a few other text books and want more specific info on neuroscience but can't get access to journal articles). If you are curious about a specific area of neuroscience, then the journals are where you need to be. If you have a more general interest in neuroscience, then I suggest reading something like 'Neuroscience: Exploring the Brain,' which gives all the important fundamental information and is accurate without being bogged down with superfluous detail. Now that I think of it, I personally haven't opened my 'principles of neural science' book since I was an undergrad. It is sort of in this netherworld between having the good overview info of a well thoughtout textbook and the factual specificity found in a journal article. Overall, it gets 3 stars, which amazon says means it's OK, which is exactly what I'd tell someone in person who asked about it....."meh....it's OK." But that doesn't change the fact I'd be talking about the book unequivocally accepted to be the bible of neuroscience.

-Hope this was helpful

P.S. I know many of you will disagree with my rating, thinking it should be higher. I'd ask that you don't mark this review as unhelpful simply because you disagree. This book is/was likely mandatory reading for you anyways, as it was for me (although I felt compelled on my own to get this new edition) so reviews don't have an influence on whether or not you purchase or read it. My review is aimed at those who aren't required to buy this book. To reiterate my justification for a review of "OK" rather than "good" or "great": the book is too detailed. It is bogged down in a way that will keep many non-experts from being able to enjoy the book and integrate all the information. At the same time, the book isn't detailed enough to be really useful to an expert in any single area. There's a quote from someone wiser than me that would fit well here, but I can't recall the specifics...only the gist, which is that the difficult part isn't figuring out what you need to include, but what you can leave out. This book would have benefited from editor's who understood and applied the meaning of this quote.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterpiece for Neural Science studies, May 24, 2013
By 
Serge Marinkovic MD (Lafayette, Lousiana) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Principles of Neural Science, Fifth Edition (Principles of Neural Science (Kandel)) (Hardcover)
I am a urologist specializing in neurologically impaired patients so I read Kandels newest edition once they become available. This edition is superb with colorful and easily understood illustrations, diagrams and radiology studies including PET scans. The print is very legible and the spacing is perfect. It took a month to read the 1700 pages but its the best book i have read these last 10 years with Bruce Alberts Molecular Biology of the Cell whose 6th edition should be out later this year. I really found the molecular biology and anatomy chapter the perfect reintroduction for me. It provided me with the perfect detail and understanding for a paper I am writing on Strokes and their Effect on the Bladder. The disease specific Chapters on Stroke, Parkinsons, Multiple Sclerosis each are well detailed but with excellent explanations of the principles necessary for the clinician to get a strong hold on this relevant material. These chapters should be standard reading for all medical students and residents. The radiological studies chosen to illustrate these disease entities are the best i have seen and explain what is important to know and understand for each type of stroke, progressive MS or non progressive MS. I purchased it early after its release new for 70 dollars so with its success it will soon be a classic at 100 plus dollars and will still be worth every penny. I will now use this to teach my students the fundamentals of a neurological exam and to emphasis the commonly seen neurological disease seen by urologists. Thank you Dr Kandel for a book well worth the 7 year wait.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 5th Edition, Still A Classic, July 29, 2013
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This review is from: Principles of Neural Science, Fifth Edition (Principles of Neural Science (Kandel)) (Hardcover)
After its release was pushed back many times, the 5th edition finally came out within the past year, and I have been reading it on my laptop's Kindle app throughout my first year of core PhD courses and in preparing for my qualifying exam. I had read some of the 4th edition during undergrad, as well.

In general my feelings towards the book are warm, and I do expect that if you read the textbook, dear reader of this review, you will learn a lot from it.

Positives

1) Does a good job of not trying to be Alberts' *Molecular Biology of the Cell*. The sections on cell biology, the central dogma, and non-neuroscience-related signaling pathways are refreshingly bare-boned. Seek resources elsewhere if you want to go ham on transcription, translation, and the MAPKKK-MAPKK-MAPK cascade.

2) Perception, sensation, and movement were not the reasons that I first became interested in neuroscience, and, generalizing from my one example as is de rigueur in book reviews, I think that is true of most students. And while this might be just Stockholm syndrome, I'm actually quite happy that there is so much detail and care put into these sections which make up around 1/3rd of the text. These fields are way more tractable to study than the sexy emotion, learning, and personal identity, yet the most of the principles that have been discovered there are likely to generalize.

As an example of this, consider the work of Charles Sherrington, who among other accomplishments won the 1932 Nobel for explaining spinal reflexes as a balance of excitation and inhibition. And now that we have some fancy techniques like conditional genetic KOs and optogenetics, we know that a variety of other phenomena, from critical periods to anxiety, are also regulated via a very similar balance of excitation and inhibition.

3) Most chapters do an excellent job of motivating their material. For example, they emphasize themes from the history of how people have thought about the brain, e.g. James and Freud. There are also a few references to art and literature, such as Gabriel Garcia-Marquez, that are really money.

4) Most fundamentally, this is the eminent textbook on how your mind works and how you are able to understand the words that you are currently reading. And there are some chapters, especially the last three (65 - 67), that really delve into this. What's there not to love?

Negatives

1) In general neuroscience tries very hard to distinguish itself from psychology and this makes good sense in terms of specialization. But the field is still operating in the wake of Karl Lashley, a famous experimentalist who in the 1930s concluded that brain regions had "equipotentiality" for learning mazes not because his lesions were flawed but because his tasks were not specific enough. Designing behavioral tasks is not trivial. Yet, you will not read much about the principles behind how to do so, and nothing about the matching law or Rescorla-Wagner. (My bias: I did some research in learning and behavior in undergrad.)

2) For one of our classes we read an older (3rd edition) version of Chapter 13 on Neurotransmitters. There were way more equations explaining different models of neurotransmitter vesicle release patterns, e.g. explaining the use of the Poisson distribution as an approximation for the binomial. It doesn't make sense that the text has become less quantitative at the same time that math has become easier to use to explain phenomena, as a result of advances in systems biology and just programming generally.

3) Why does searching for "optogenetics" yield me zero results?

4) I prefer my pedagogical material to be structured in the format of *example 1*, *example 2*, (*optional example 3*), and *inducted principle*. The examples only matter insofar as they motivate the principles. Kandel's textbook strays slightly too far from this, I think. In particular, the text tends to enshrine the examples, such CREB, CamKII, PKA, and the ilk, as worthy of our worship in and of themselves. This sets the trend for how neuroscience courses should be taught and for that reason it is a bit troubling.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent update, December 4, 2012
By 
Ronald Potter-Efron (Eleva, WI United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Principles of Neural Science, Fifth Edition (Principles of Neural Science (Kandel)) (Hardcover)
Having only read the 4th edition last year I was eager to see the newly updated version. It is bigger and better, with excellent photographs and charts and far greater detail than in the past. It's very readable as well, partly because there is enough repetition of these difficult concepts to make them understandable.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Authoritative and Comprehensive, February 5, 2013
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This is the bible of Neuroscience - worth its weight in gold!
The depth to which Kandel et al go into the biochemistry all the way up to theory of mind is awe inspiring!
I recommend it to professionals and laymen alike.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnifique!, April 14, 2013
By 
Steven A. Peterson (Hershey, PA (Born in Kewanee, IL)) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Principles of Neural Science, Fifth Edition (Principles of Neural Science (Kandel)) (Hardcover)
This is a massive volume that provides a detailed sense of "the principles of neural science," the work's title. Basic statistics: the book weighs about nine pounds; it is 1709 pages long; it has 67 chapters; there are six appendices; 79 authors are involved; the book is divided up into 9 parts, each with numerous chapters. To compare, the fourth edition (published in 2000) had about 1400 pages. This volume is not meant for a general audience, but it is a wonderful resource for those who can work their way through its many chapters. I have found earlier volumes in this series very helpful for one part of my academic research agenda (the political implications of human biology).

Let's take a look at the structure of the volume, to illustrate the substance of the book. Part I provides an overall perspective on the scope of the book. The chapters examine the role of the brain in behavior, a summary of nerve cells and their function, and the relationship between genes, the brain, and behavior. With this serving as an introduction, Part II goes on to examine cells and the molecular biology of the neuron. Among subjects covered: The structure and nature of neurons and glial cells (which support neurons) and the electrical properties of neurons. Part III focuses on synapses, which provide for communication between and among neurons. How do synapses operate? What are chemical and electrical modes of operation? What is the role of neurotransmitters? Finally, this section considers diseases of the nerve and systems that they support.

Part IV is very important for my research interests--"The Neural Basis of Cognition." How does the brain and its structure affect cognition Chapter 15 describes the structure of the central nervous system and how the cerebral cortex, for example, affects cognition. In the chapter is a discussion of how the cerebral cortex is organized by layers AND by columns. Other important chapters in this section include effects on cognitive functioning of the brain outside the cerebral cortex and how functional imaging of cognition works (and the limitations with the use of such technology).

Part V summarizes our understanding of perception, how we come to experience the world around us. Subjects? The somatosensory system, touch, pain, vision (with five chapters devoted to the subject), the inner ear, hearing, and smell and taste. Part VI? Movement. The chapters herein explore the various elements in making movement possible. We learn of the different brain areas and other support systems underlying movement and locomotion.

How do people process information? Part VII concentrates on this, and this segment is also of relevance for my own research interests. Part VIII targets development and emergence of behavior. The one chapter in this section that is most poignant to me is Chapter 59--"The Aging Brain." The chapter speaks to what we know of the effects of aging on the brain and its functioning. Finally, section IX, "Language, Affect, and Learning." These represent key issues of interest in our understanding of central features of being human.

This book is not something that most of us would skim. But it is a compendium that well illustrates what we know about the structure and function of the brain. For those interested in the subject, this is an important work.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So much to love, June 3, 2013
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This review is from: Principles of Neural Science, Fifth Edition (Principles of Neural Science (Kandel)) (Hardcover)
When they illustrate neurons with empty outlines and maybe throw in a nucleus, they are leaving out most of the fascinating details of how neurons actually work. Those details can be found here!
I just finished my undergrad in cell bio/biotech and hope to go to grad school in a field involving neural science, so I bought this book to get a head start. Now I wish I'd bought it earlier in my undergrad career, as I find learning details helps with retaining information.
For a textbook of this size and with this much information, it is quite reasonably priced. I think splitting it into two volumes would have been a wise move, as you can't really lie down and read it without being crushed by its weight.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Neuroscience's Bible, January 19, 2013
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This review is from: Principles of Neural Science, Fifth Edition (Principles of Neural Science (Kandel)) (Hardcover)
Doesn't matter if is your first contact with the subject or if you're trying understand more of a known issue, this book is ALWAYS the best starting point. It's my pillow book and i strongly recommend for everyone.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect read for the serious neuroscience student., January 10, 2014
This review is from: Principles of Neural Science, Fifth Edition (Principles of Neural Science (Kandel)) (Hardcover)
This was the recommended text for my degree in Neuroscience. It is a wonderful, detailed, and comprehensive text. It covers a wide variety of topics and has thorough illustrations. I highly suggest getting this book to supplement any student in a neurological related field.
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