Best Neuroscience Books for Students Entering Cutting-Edge Human Brain Research

There are books that can turn someone’s life abruptly, give a new dream, start a new ambition, and ignite flame. That can happen even with the books written about very serious matters, science, and research. They can show that neuroscience, for example, is the area full of passion and space for discoveries and teach more than the most experienced professors at the most interesting lectures can. Have a look at the list of the best neuroscience books for students entering cutting-edge human brain research and try reading at least one of them. You will see that you will not put it down until the last page will be turned over.

Why do we forget some books and keep others in mind for all our lives? Can a particular book be crafted specifically for a particular mind? The books find their owners; however, it is never hurts to help.

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Best Books on Neuroscience for Curious Minds

1. The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales by Oliver Sacks

This is a life-changing book that can give a new sparkle for those who seem to be burnt down. If one’s interest in psychology and neuroscience is genuine, one will gallop through this book and then re-read it slowly again. It asks questions that cannot let the readers stay indifferent. It explains the mechanisms of how the material brain gives rise to consciousness. It explores the changes in the brain and subsequent states of consciousness in an exciting way for the readers.

A writer and a neurologist, Oliver Sacks presents a case study of an unusual patient and adds his own comments and reflections. The neurological condition of the main character of the book is known as visual agnosia. It means that he has almost intact vision, being able to draw the objects and people he sees, but he is not able to give any interpretations to what is around. When he looks at his wife, he thinks that she is a coat rack and her head is the hat. A curious reader can find a lot of interesting stories and observations of the author in the footnotes of the book.

Other nooks of the same author are: An Anthropologist on Mars, Awakenings, Musicophilia, Migraine, The Mind’s Eye, Hallucinations, Seeing Voices, Island of the Colorblind, and others. Overall, all books written by Sacks are great, but his The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat is the most prominent one.

2. Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers: The Acclaimed Guide to Stress, Stress-Related Diseases, and Coping by Robert Sapolsky

Everybody, who is interested in neurobiology, knows the name of Robert Sapolsky. He gives all the explanations about the fundamental science and its effect on the everyday life. Sapolsky worked in Africa as a primatologist. He has had a wonderful life, and he has got his expertise in science, work experience and incredible sense of humor that makes his books both instructional and easy to read and enjoy.

The book presents a discussion of how different is the stress experienced by animals in the wild with the stress experienced chronically in the society nowadays with all the issues and problems, including the poverty, child abuse, and others.

Robert Sapolsky has a number of books on neuroscience, in particular Primate’s Memoir: A Neuroscientists Unconventional Life Among the Baboons, The Trouble with Testosterone, and others.

3. The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science by Norman Doidge

A psychoanalyst and a psychiatrist, Norman Doidge explores a newly discovered neuroplasticity concept, showing how the brain can remodel itself all the time throughout the life. He demonstrates how surprisingly adaptive human brain can be.

His stories present the case studies of patients who recover in a miraculous manner with the help of interventions with the involvement of neuroplasticity. One of the examples is a surgeon who survives a stroke when he is in his fifties. His arm can hardly function, but the intervention motivates him to get extensive practice, make the arm stronger, and prevent negative changes in his brain. The functioning arm stops colonizing the broken brain parts that monitored the weak arm. Otherwise, the deficit would be permanent and the brain areas of the functioning arm would assist the damaged arm.

Doige tells other stories as well to share outstanding findings, scientific discoveries, and demonstrate how people can manage to restore balance and sight in interaction with the technological advancements. It is one of the neuroscience books for students entering cutting-edge human brain research that also reveals how people can develop certain extra-human sensory abilities.

One more book The Brains Way of Healing by the same writer also excites interest of the readers.

4. Thinking, Fast and Slowby Daniel Kahneman

A psychology PhD with the Nobel Prize in Economics, Daniel Kahneman shows the irrational behavior of the brain to his readers in the book that is both a memoir and a collection of great ideas. It is a charming and intriguing story told by a thoughtful writer to those who are passionate about the psychological field.

What is the key idea of the book? The author claims that there are two thinking modes that exist in parallel manner. One of them is an irrational system that works fast and has a lot of biases for one truth. The other one has a higher level of rationality and lower rate of susceptibility to the mistakes in cognition; however, it gets tired sooner. The book explains how a person switches between the systems and how different those uses are. It is actually an introductory work to the world of behavioral economics and experimental psychology. Read it and your life choices will be more rational with its help.

5. Apprentice to Genius: The Making of a Scientific Dynasty by Robert Kanigel

A marvelous story of Robert Kanigel presents the origins of present-day pharmacology in the period of World War II. He tells about the attempts of the scientists to cure malaria without quinine as the access to this medicine was cut off. The readers get to know how numerous scientists together with their assistants and students made their contributions to the development of science. He mentions two winners of an American Lasker award and one Laureate of Nobel Prize.

It is not only an exploration of the history of science and acknowledgement of the contributions of geniuses. Kanigel shows his profound interest in the people who are so passionate about science that they group and make life-changing discoveries together. He makes investigation in the field of new findings and their effect on the productivity of other scientists, discusses the merits of individual researchers and the collective efforts of the laboratories, and ponders over the value of culture transmission and mentorship in science.

It is the book for those who want to gain an insight into actual mechanism of how science functions. It shows the struggle of individuals and groups, ego and collective wisdom.

What else can you read? Have a look through a list of the best neuroscience books for students entering cutting-edge human brain research and you will definitely find something for you.

6. In Search of Memory: The Emergence of a New Science of Mind by Eric R. Kandel

A memoir of the author who starts with describing his Jewish years of childhood in Vienna occupied by Nazi and proceeds to the exploration of sea slugs and the concept of synaptic plasticity. It is a must for every student majoring in neuroscience.

7. Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcom Gladwell

It is a profound exploration of practice and willingness to excel as the key factors which lead to success.


8. My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey by Jill Bolte Taylor

It is a story of a neuroscientist about recovery after a stroke.

9. The Language Instinct by Stephen Pinker

It can be referred to as an introduction to linguistics with detailed explanations of the necessity to reinvent the language by every new generation.

10. Mapping the Mind by Rita Carter

If you need guidance into the basics of neuroanatomy and cognitive science, it is this book. It may look outdated, but it is still of great interest to the students.

11. On Intelligence by Jeff Hawkins

The author was related to the invention of the PDA, smartphones’ precursor. He was willing to get a degree in computational neuroscience before it was possible. He also made some predictions in the field of neuroscience, which were not noticed on time, unfortunately. He draws the parallel between computing and cognition and computing. His book is a presentation of ideas on computation and thinking of this outstanding scientist.

12. Phantoms in the Brain: Probing the Mysteries of the Human Mind by V.S. Ramachandran

Read through exciting neuroscience stories, similar to those of Sapolsky and Sacks.

13. The Emotional Brain Revisited by Joseph E. Ledoux

A technical book shows a relation between emotions and neuroscience.

14. Fixing My Gaze – A Scientist’s Journey into Seeing in Three Dimensions by Susan Berry

A cross-eyed neuroscientist could not develop a 3-D sense of vision or depth perception. Suffering from strabismus, she tries a special therapy that helps her to enjoy the surrounding world in three dimensions.

Read the books and get more intelligent with every new page. Benefit from the great ideas of outstanding people, delve into their reflections, and enjoy the presentation of amazing expertise. Do not think that the presented list is full. Add new books on neuroscience to the list, leave comments, and help others find their favorites in the world of science.