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The Brain: Big Bangs, Behaviors, and Beliefs Hardcover – April 24, 2012
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Top Customer Reviews
It's hard to describe this book because it is fairly different from the typical "brain book" you will find. See the bottom of this review where I copied a paragraph from the description on Amazon.
I strongly recommend you use the Amazon "Search Inside" feature offered for this book. In particular look at the table of contents, the timeline on pages 309-310, and the pages of the epilogue that are available in "Search Inside". These will give you a good idea what the book is about. The search inside feature is excellent and under used on books where it is available.
I love science and this book is wonderful. It contains a wealth of information that you would not normally expect to find put together with a good narrative flow. Very highly recommended.
From the description:
"Tapping the very latest findings in evolutionary biology, neuroscience, and molecular biology, Rob DeSalle and Ian Tattersall explain how the cognitive gulf that separates us from all other living creatures could have occurred. They discuss the development and uniqueness of human consciousness, how human and nonhuman brains work, the roles of different nerve cells, the importance of memory and language in brain functions, and much more. Our brains, they conclude, are the product of a lengthy and supremely untidy history--an evolutionary process of many zigs and zags--that has accidentally resulted in a splendidly eccentric and creative product."
This is an ambitious book. The brain is probably one of biology's "ultimate frontiers" and one of the most interesting topics to think about. Given the scope of what the authors tried to achieve, this is a pretty good book! The authors are recognized experts in the fields of genetics and anthropology, and both are prolific authors of specialized scientific articles as well as popular science works. Dr. Tattersal alone has published 3 books in 2012, including this one!
I must say that I enjoyed the book. It presents a rather interesting summary of neuroscience, from the very small to the bigger matters. The authors were able to seamlessly integrate such wide topics as philosophy, biology and cosmology in a coherent way. I do not know how they pulled it off. That's the good news... The not so good news is that there are several instances of innacurate statements, especially in the area of neuroscience. For example:
Page 57: They talk about a type of sea slug, and they name it Aplysia californicus. The correct name is Aplysia californica. I know, extra picky, but there is a reason for mentioning this fact; it is found at the very end of this post.
Page 72: When talking about some types of glutamate receptors, they correctly named three of the receptor subtypes, those sensitive to the compounds AMPA, NMDA and kainate (look them up, they are really interesting). However, they imply that these three compounds (A, N and K) are the native neurotransmitters. They are not. These three types of receptors are all activated by glutamate, and selectively activated by A, N and K. This is a technical difference, but it is important.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The cover raves about readability. I mean, sure, it's light for scientists, but it's still pretty boring writing.Published 10 months ago by anon
This otherwise very informative and unexceptionable book was almost completely marred for me by unnecessarily going of its way in the first chapter to take entirely misplaced pot... Read morePublished 23 months ago by Uma Guma
The book has some good info in it, but it's pretty basic stuff for the most part. I'm a graduate student in cognitive science, so maybe it would be more interesting to someone with... Read morePublished 23 months ago by Benjamin McDunn
I've read Tattersall before and found his descriptions of human lineages very useful and detailed. This book is not as specific, nor as detailed as I had thought it might be. Read morePublished on August 25, 2013 by George E. Mobus