Cognitieve neuroscience is a relatively recently developed academic field that seeks to explain the underlying biological/neural processes of mental processes (or cognition) in humans. In doing so, it overlaps with many different disciplines, most of them originating from psychology and neuroscience. Cognitive Neuroscience: The Biology of the Mind is an academic textbook that attempts to show a complete overview of contemporary findings in its field, and provides its reader with a heavy chunk o Cognitieve neuroscience is a relatively recently developed academic field that seeks to explain the underlying biological/neural processes of mental processes (or cognition) in humans. In doing so, it overlaps with many different disciplines, most of them originating from psychology and neuroscience. Cognitive Neuroscience: The Biology of the Mind is an academic textbook that attempts to show a complete overview of contemporary findings in its field, and provides its reader with a heavy chunk of information gathered by three well-known cognitive neuroscientists (Gazzaniga, Ivry, and Mangun).
It is as cutting edge as the cover says it is, and often updated and republished in new versions with brand new information added to its large bulks of text. This review is about the current third edition, which includes chapters on the following subjects: (1) A brief history of cognitive neuroscience, (2) Cellular mechanisms and cognition, (3) Neuroanatomy and development, (4) Methods of cognitive neuroscience, (5) Sensation and perception, (6) Object recognition, (7) The control of action, (8) Learning and memory, (9) Emotion, (10) Language, (11) Hemispheric specialization, (12) Attention and Consciousness, (13) Cognitive control, (14) Social cognition, and (15) Evolutionary perspectives.
As one can see, next to very specific and advanced level chapters, this book doesn’t skip out on the basics, either. Though I would recommend courses on biological psychology, neuroscience, and/or cognitive psychology, with a bit of determination and devotion, readers new to the material could pick up all the information they need just from this book alone. As far as basics are concerned, it is especially clear on neural structure and cellular mechanisms, and perhaps even explains it better than other books I’ve read on the subject.
Despite its heavy and advanced level of information, this textbook doesn’t really read like one’s normal, everyday university textbook. It’s more of a narrative, and its texts flow really well. Starting off each chapter with an interesting case example, the authors then dive further and further in the underlying mechanisms that cause the case study’s current state, exploring both the cognitive processes and the biology of it step by step. This makes it easy to follow, even for undergraduates, and therefore more comprehensive (and more successful as an academic textbook, too, in my opinion).
To help support its narrative texts, this particular book includes a lot of colourful illustrations of models, diagrams, schemas – and also photos of patients, case studies, and many a picture of an EEG recording or an fMRI scan. This not only aids the reader in absorbing the material and in understanding it better, but it also makes for quite an attractive book to look at.
Complete and dense, Cognitive Neuroscience: The Biology of the Mind definitely does provide its readers with everything they need to know on the subject, including some of the basics and a lot of contemporary research/findings. However, its completeness and density make for some heavy reading, and though I very much enjoyed its narrative style, all of that taken together can hinder a reader when, for example, studying for exams. It’s sometimes a little difficult to pick the text apart and find short, easy conclusions to cram away with; even its ‘take home messages’ at the end of each chapter are a bit longwinded.
Even so, one of the absolute best books I’ve read in my academic career up until now. Rarely have I seen an academic textbook that felt so complete without getting too dry and boring; this one is almost a page-turner in some ways.
Recommended for anybody interested in the field of cognitive neuroscience, looking for a comprehensive guide to all aspects of the field – which also includes many extras such as the biological basics, background information on both prominent scientists in the field and their case study examples, and a historic narrative of the field’s development.