Recommended Reading for Behavioral Neuroscience

For the aspiring behavioral neuroscientist, the following books are highly recommended. Readers are assumed to have had some college or university coursework in cognition or an introduction to general topics in neuroscience. A current textbook in behavioral neuroscience is a good starting place. Textbooks by John Pinel, Bob Garrett, Bryan Kolb, or S. Marc Breedlove are among the top tier textbooks. Review them and select one that matches your starting level.

The following books, in no particular order, cover themes with which every neuroscience student should have some familiarity: nonlinear dynamical systems, genetics, molecular and cellular biology, neurodevelopment, and brain theory and structure.

  • Bray, D. (2009). Wetware: A computer in every living cell. New Haven: Yale University Press. (Added 6/27/11.)
  • Freeman, W. J. (2000). How brains make up their minds. New York: Columbia Univ. Press.
  • Mareschal, D., Johnson, M. H., Sirois, S., Spratling, M. W., Thomas, M. S. C., & Westerman, G. (2007). Neuroconstructivism volume one: How the brain constructs cognition. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.
  • Richards, J. E., & Hawley, R. S., (2010). The human genome, third edition: A user’s guide. Boston: Elsevier, Academic Press.
  • Linden, D. J. (2007). The accidental mind. Cambridge: Belknap Press, Harvard Univ. Press.
  • Guastello, S. J., Koopmans, M., & Pincus, D. (Eds.). (2009). Chaos and complexity in psychology: The theory of nonlinear dynamical systems. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press.
  • Sporns, O. (2011). Networks of the brain. Cambridge: Massachusetts Inst. of Technology.
  • Goodsell, D. S. (2010). The machinery of life. New York: Copernicus Book, Springer.
  • Wilson, E. O. (1998). Consilience: The unity of knowledge. New York: Vintage Books, Random House.
  • Siegel, A., & Sapru, H. W. (2011). Essential neuroscience, second edition. Baltimore: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Wolters Kluwer.

There are many books published regularly on topics in neuroethics, social neuroscience, neuropharmacology, molecular biology and psychology, developmental neuroscience, neuropsychiatry and neuropsychology, and neuroscience theory. The aim of the foregoing list is to provide an essential foundation in broad topics. Readers are invited to recommend particularly salient books that might fit well within this goal.

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