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Neuroscience: Exploring the Brain 4th Edition


Author: Mark F. Bear and Barry W. Connors

Publisher: Wolters Kluwer


Publish Date: February 3, 2015

ISBN-10: 781778174

Pages: 1004

File Type: PDF

Language: English

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Book Preface


For over 30 years, we have taught a course called Neuroscience 1: An Introduction to the Nervous System. “Neuro 1” has been remarkably successful. At Brown University, where the course originated, approximately one out of every four undergraduates takes it. For a few students, this is the beginning of a career in neuroscience; for others, it is the only science course they take in college.

The success of introductory neuroscience refl ects the fascination and curiosity everyone has for how we sense, move, feel, and think. However, the success of our course also derives from the way it is taught and what is emphasized. First, there are no prerequisites, so the elements of biology, chemistry, and physics required for understanding neuroscience are covered as the course progresses. This approach ensures that no students are left behind. Second, liberal use of commonsense metaphors, realworld examples, humor, and anecdotes remind students that science is interesting, approachable, exciting, and fun. Third, the course does not survey all of neurobiology. Instead, the focus is on mammalian brains and, whenever possible, the human brain. In this sense, the course closely resembles what is taught to most beginning medical students. Similar courses are now offered at many colleges and universities by psychology, biology, and neuroscience departments.

The first edition of Neuroscience: Exploring the Brain was written to provide a suitable textbook for Neuro 1, incorporating the subject matter and philosophy that made this course successful. Based on feedback from our students and colleagues at other universities, we expanded the second edition to include more topics in behavioral neuroscience and some new features to help students understand the structure of the brain. In the third edition, we shortened chapters when possible by emphasizing principles more and details less and made the book even more user-friendly by improving the layout and clarity of the illustrations. We must have gotten it right because the book now ranks as one of the most popular introductory neuroscience books in the world. It has been particularly gratifying to see our book used as a catalyst for the creation of new courses in introductory neuroscience.


The advances in neuroscience since publication of the third edition have been nothing short of breathtaking. The elucidation of the human genome has lived up to its promise to “change everything” we know about our brains. We now have insight into how neurons differ at the molecular level, and this knowledge has been exploited to develop revolutionary technologies to trace their connections and interrogate their functions.

The genetic basis for many neurological and psychiatric diseases has been revealed. The methods of genetic engineering have made it possible to create animal models to examine how genes and genetically defi ned circuits contribute to brain function. Skin cells derived from patients have been transformed into stem cells, and these have been transformed into neurons that reveal how cellular functions go awry in diseases and how the brain might be repaired. New imaging and computational methods now put within reach the dream of creating a “wiring diagram” for the entire brain. A goal for the fourth edition was to make these and other exciting new developments accessible to the fi rst-time neuroscience student.

We authors are all active neuroscientists, and we want our readers to understand the allure of brain research. A unique feature of our book is the Path of Discovery boxes, in which famous neuroscientists tell stories about their own research. These essays serve several purposes: to give a flavor of the thrill of discovery; to show the importance of hard work and patience, as well as serendipity and intuition; to reveal the human side of science; and to entertain and amuse. We have continued this tradition in the fourth edition, with contributions from 26 esteemed scientists. Included in this illustrious group are Nobel laureates Mario Capecchi, Eric Kandel, Leon Cooper, May-Britt Moser, and Edvard Moser.

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