- Series: Very Short Introductions
- Paperback: 144 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1st edition (February 16, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0192853929
- ISBN-13: 978-0192853929
- Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 0.6 x 4.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 26 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #117,066 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Brain: A Very Short Introduction 1st Edition
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O'Shea's introduction is important in two ways: it scopes what a 127 page book can cover of such an enormous topic, and it demonstrates O'Shea's exposition style with a stimulating review of the process of reading. The book is structured with an historical perspective, descriptions of electrical and chemical signaling mechanisms (including a background on brain imaging tools), nervous system evolution, response to sensations and perceptions, and explanations of the basic mechanisms of short and long term memory. O'Shea's area of expertise comes to the fore in a brief discussion of brain/computer interfaces and artificial nervous networks. Citations are not provided although the Further Reading is useful if now a little dated.
Stand out aspects of this book are O'Shea's explanations of neural signaling. As a reader with a biology background, I found his explanations unusually fresh and intelligible; the chapter on neural evolution offers a sound context for the other information on brain structure and function; and the chapter on perception gives very clear and insightful explanations and examples, for instance on the interplay between the eyes and the lateral geniculate nuclei in the deceptively simple art of depth perception. Memory mechanisms are explained concisely and, again, with a rare clarity. I have generally found Oxford's VSI series to be well directed, either attempting a rounded description of a topic or a more incisive exploration of specific aspects. The Brain, A Very Short Introduction is a standout, combining both these approaches in a vibrant and clear exposition.
To introduce the brain in the relatively short space of 124 pages is a difficult feat and O’Shea does a nice job, taking the reader through some of the principles of neurophysiology, neuro-anatomy and evolutionary development while drawing attention to some of the prominent figures in neuroscience research and their works. He also highlights some points with a description of the relevant studies. This introduction to the brain is an engaging look at robust conclusions about the brain and its functions and some of the research that has led to these conclusions.
Chapters are adequate (not too long, not too short), they are written in plain English, arguments are easy to understand, explanations are didactically correct; in other words, I cannot find error in this technical area. To my mind, chapters provide all neccessary facts that readers, maybe students need to find and learn from this kind of book. (Of course, there are much better books, they have 300+ pages, sometimes 1,000+ pages. But they are not "Introduction.") I think, reviewed book should be 'first book' for readers or students who want to study this subject. After studying this book they should (or rather have to) read other books, which offer more facts, which bring deeper information... (...maybe their last book will be "Priciples of Neural Science" by E. Candel, J. Schwartz, et al.).
Mr. O'Shea's book offers exactly what it is suggested in subtitle, so it is /1/ very, /2/ short, /3/ introduction. His book is useful as first book in named subject and it can provides you only solid background. If you want more complex information, you have to subsequently read other books.
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Background: I studied for neurop in highschool for no credit, no AP...Read more