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An Introduction To Brain and Behavior. Fourth Edition


Author: Bryan Kolb

Publisher: Worth Publishers


Publish Date: November 28, 2012

ISBN-10: 1429242280

Pages: 608

File Type: PDF

Language: English

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Book Preface

The Fourth Edition of An Introduction to Brain and Behavior continues to reflect the evolution of behavioral neuroscience. The major change in emphasis in this edition is the incorporation of epigenetics throughout. DNA, previously believed to be an unchanging template of heredity, is now known to respond to environmental events throughout life, leading to the concept of an epigenome, a record of the chemical changes to the DNA that regulate gene expression.

Epigenetics is especially important for understanding brain and behavior because environmentally induced modifications in gene expression alter the brain and ultimately behavioral development. Thus, experience—especially early experience— modifies how brain development unfolds. These modifications—of at least some behavioral traits—can be transferred across generations, as noted at the end of Section 3-3.

This edition fully addresses the advances in imaging technology, including the development and refinement of such MRI techniques as resting-state fMRI and diffusion tensor imaging, that are fueling the emerging field of connectonomics. As shown in the image on the book’s cover, researchers are working to create a comprehensive map of neural connections—a “connectome” of the brain. These exciting advances are especially relevant in the second half of the book, where we review higher-level functions.

Imaging advances and epigenetics concepts and research are our prime focus in this revision but not our sole focus. The range of updates and new coverage in the Fourth Edition text and Focus features is listed, chapter-by-chapter, in the margins of these Preface pages. See for yourself the breadth and scope of the revision and then read on to learn more about the big-picture improvements in the Fourth Edition.

Our reviewers convinced us to move some material around. The chapter on Drugs and Hormones now follows Chapter 5, Neurotransmission. Long-term potentiation (LTP) has moved from Section 5-4 into an expanded discussion that begins Section 14-4 in the Learning and Memory chapter. And the Clinical Focus features on autism spectrum disorder and cerebral palsy have traded places: ASD now appears in Chapter 8, Development, and CP in Chapter 11, on Movement and Somatosensation.

In refining the book’s learning apparatus, we have added sets of self-test questions at the end of the major sections in each chapter. These Section Reviews help students track their understanding as they progress. Answers appear at the back of the book.

We have expanded the popular margin notes, again thanks to feedback from readers, who confirm that the notes increase the reader’s ease in finding information, especially when related concepts are introduced early in the text and then elaborated in later chapters. The addition of section numbers to each chapter’s main headings makes it possible for readers to return quickly to an earlier discussion to refresh their knowledge or jump ahead to learn more. The margin notes also help instructors to move through the book to preview later discussions.

We have extended the appearance of illustrated Experiments that teach the scientific method visually from 8 to 13 chapters and the appearance of The Basics features that review scientific essentials from 4 to 6 chapters. The Experiments show readers how researchers design experiments—how they approach the study of brain–behavior relationships. The Basics let students brush up or get up to speed on their science foundation— knowledge that helps them comprehend behavioral neuroscience more fully.

We have made some big changes, yet much of the book remains familiar. Throughout, we continue to examine the nervous system with a focus on function, on how our behavior and our brains interact, by asking key questions that students and neuroscientists ask:

• Why do we have a brain?
• How is the nervous system organized?
• How do drugs affect our behavior?
• How does the brain learn?
• How does the brain think?

As it was when we wrote the First Edition, our goal in this new edition is to bring coherence to a vast subject by helping students understand the big picture. Asking fundamental questions about the brain has another benefit: it piques students’ interest and challenges them to join us on the journey of discovery that is brain science.

Scientific understanding of the human brain and human behavior continues to grow at an exponential pace. We want to communicate the excitement of recent breakthroughs in brain science and to relate some of our own experiences from 45 years of studying brain and behavior both to make the field’s developing core concepts and latest revelations understandable and meaningful and to transport uninitiated students to the frontiers of physiological psychology.

Every chapter centers on the relation between the brain and behavior. When we first describe how neurons communicate in Section 5-4, for example, we also describe how synaptic plasticity serves as the basis of learning. Later, in Section 14-4, we expand on plasticity as we explore learning and memory.

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