As we receive review copies of new books from different publishers, it’s a good idea to make you aware of the titles that are emerging these days. Although we’d like to, it won’t be possible to review all of those splendid books. Instead, we bring you here the latest new book titles. Indeed, besides being interesting to us as cognitive neuroscientists, we also find many titles relevant to discussions in neuroethics. Here are some titles that should be read by anyone interested in ethics, brain and humanity:
23 problems in system neuroscience, by van Hemmen & Sejnowski
About the book: The complexity of the brain and the protean nature of behavior remain the most elusive area of science, but also the most important. van Hemmen and Sejnowski invited 23 experts from the many areas–from evolution to qualia–of systems neuroscience to formulate one problem each. Although each chapter was written independently and can be read separately, together they provide a useful roadmap to the field of systems neuroscience and will serve as a source of inspirations for future explorers of the brain.
Note: Although stil reading the book, I there are a few chapters that are interesting to a neuroethics perspective, posing questions such as “what is the function of the thalamus?”; “shall we ever understand the fly’s brain?”; “what is the neural code?”; “how is time represented in the brain?”; and “what are the neural correlates of consciousness?”. The whole idea with this book is to pose problems that are still unanswered and that neuroscience should focus their effort on solving. The problem of what a neural code is, for example, is really one of the largest questions in modern neuroscience. Should we crack the code of the neural language, the expectation is that this will resolve our understanding of its workings and how it generates the mind.
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Emotion and Reason, by Berthoz (translated from French)
About the book: ‘Emotion and Reason’ presents a groundbreaking new approach to understanding decision making processes and their neural bases. The book presents a sweeping survey of the science of decision making. It examines the brain mechanisms involved in making decisions, and controversially proposes that many of our perceptual actions are essentially decision making processes. Whether looking, listening, hearing, or moving, we choose to attend to certain stimuli, at the expense of others. In some psychiatric disorders the inability to respond selectively to certain stimuli can be harmful – such pathologies of decision making are additionally considered. Berthoz also considers how many decision making processes involve an internal dialogue with our other self, and how this dialogue with our “doppelganger” might be represented in the brain. He considers the important implications that a neuroscience of decision making can have for the judiciary – how we apportion blame and responsibility; for economics – with discussion of the growing field of neuroeconomics; and for theories of management. Lastly he examines decision making and creativity – if perception relies in part on decision making processes, how might this alter our view of the artistic process.
Note: “Believing as I do, that any simple look or action entails a choice, and that emotions are prepackaged decisions of great complexity, I welcome this text by Alain Berthoz and its thoughtful contributions”, Antonio Damasio
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Processes of change in brain and cognitive development, edited by Munakata and Johnson
About the book: This new volume in the highy cited and critically acclaimed Attention and Performance series is the first to provide a systematic investigation into the processes of change in mental development. It brings together world class scientists to address brain and cognitive development at several different levels, including phylogeny, genetics, neurophysiology, brain imaging, behavior, and computational modeling, across both typically and atypically developing populations. Presenting original new research from the frontiers of cognitive neuroscience, this book will have a substantial impact in this field, as well as on developmental psychology and developmental neuroscience.
Note: This book really is a mixture of developmental and general learning mechanisms in the brain. Topics range from the range of Hebbian learning; development of control of action; infants on continuity violations; the development of cognitive specialization; the infant as a synesthete; development of conceptual representations; and modules, genes and evolution. It is a truly fascinating ensemble of authors and topics that seek out to cover some of the most up-front issues not only in developmental issues, but something that should shed light on our “normal adult” cognitive operations as well.
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