How Does The Brain Work? (The Top Books In Neuroscience)

Sud Alogu
4 min readApr 8, 2021
  • Synaptic Self: How Our Brains Become Who We Are — Joseph E. LeDoux — 2002

How does the memory function? What is the synaptic basis of mental illness and drug addiction? What is the mechanism of self-awareness?

  • Consciousness and the Brain: Deciphering How the Brain Codes Our Thoughts — Stanislas Dehaene– 2014

How does our brain generate a conscious thought? And why does so much of our knowledge remain unconscious?

  • The Brain’s Way of Healing: Remarkable Discoveries and Recoveries from the Frontiers of Neuroplasticity — Norman Doidge — 2015

How does the brain heal itself?

  • The Mind and the Brain — Jeffrey M. Schwartz, Sharon Begley — 2001

Conventional science has long held the position that ‘the mind’ is merely an illusion, a side effect of electrochemical activity in the physical brain. Schwartz is a researcher in brain dysfunction who argues exactly the opposite: that the mind has a life of its own.

  • Anxious: Using the Brain to Understand and Treat Fear and Anxiety — Joseph E. LeDoux — 2015

Fear and anxiety are not innate states waiting to be unleashed from the brain, but experiences that we assemble cognitively. Treatment of these problems must address both their conscious manifestations and underlying non-conscious processes. While knowledge about how the brain works will help us discover new drugs, LeDoux argues that the greatest breakthroughs may come from using brain research to help reshape psychotherapy.

  • Phantoms in the Brain: Probing the Mysteries of the Human Mind — V.S. Ramachandran — 1998

What do neurological disorders tell us about who we are, how we construct our body image, why we laugh or become depressed, why we may believe in God, how we make decisions, deceive ourselves and dream, perhaps even why we’re so clever at philosophy, music and art

  • A Brief Tour of Human Consciousness: From Impostor Poodles to Purple Numbers — V.S. Ramachandran — 2003

Investigations into how amputees feel pain in phantom limbs, how synesthetes see color in numbers and flavors in sounds, and the relationship between seeing and believing — and what all this tells us about consciousness and the self.

  • Mapping the Mind — Rita Carter — 1998

What is the way the brain receives information from the outside world, and how this information is categorized, stored and retrieved? Contains many great graphical illustrations.

  • The Mimetic Brain — Michel Oughourlian — 2016

Michel Oughourlian shows how Girard’s Mimetic Theory can be combined with neuroscience to shed light on the discovery of mirror neurons in the brain. Re-evaluates contemporary psychiatry, and offers rivalry as a misunderstood driving force behind mental illness.

  • Mind Wide Open: Your Brain and the Neuroscience of Everyday Life — Steven Johnson — 1999

How do we “read” other people? What is the neurochemistry behind love and sex? What does it mean that the brain is teeming with powerful chemicals closely related to recreational drugs? Why does music move us to tears? Where do breakthrough ideas come from?

  • Affective Neuroscience: The Foundations of Human and Animal Emotions — Jaak Panksepp — 1998

A comprehensive summary of the fundamental neural sources of human and animal feelings, as well as a conceptual framework for studying emotional systems of the brain.

  • The Brain that Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science — Norman Doidge — 2007

A set of stories about people who have regained or developed senses they either lost or never had.

  • The Emotional Brain: The Mysterious Underpinnings of Emotional Life — Joseph E. LeDoux — 1998

What are the origins of human emotions? How do they exist as part of complex neural systems that evolved to enable us to survive?

  • Descartes’ Error: Emotion, Reason and the Human Brain — António R. Damásio — 1994

Descartes’ “error” was the separation of mind and body — an artificial dichotomy between rationality and emotion. Damasio makes an excellent case on neurological grounds that rationality does not work without emotion.

  • The Feeling of What Happens: Body and Emotion in the Making of Consciousness — António R. Damásio — 2000

How our consciousness developed out of the development of emotion

  • Emotions Revealed: Recognizing Faces and Feelings to Improve Communication and Emotional Life — Paul Ekman — 2004

What are emotions? What are the 7 universal emotions, how to recognize them in others?

  • Human: The Science Behind What Makes Us Unique — Michael S. Gazzaniga — 2008

How did social awareness and moral standards evolve? Should intelligence remain embodied? Do you need a physical body to develop human intelligence and consciousness? What does art tell us about the origin of human life, in an evolutionary adaptive sense? How does consciousness arise?

  • Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain — Oliver Sacks — 2007

An investigation into the minds of people who have musical hallucinations, associate musical notes with colors or pictures, or suddenly discover after an accident, that they have gained or lost an aptitude for music.

  • Your Brain on Music — Daniel J. Levitin — 2006

Are our musical preferences shaped in utero? Is there a cutoff point for acquiring new tastes in music? What do PET scans and MRIs reveal about the brain’s response to music? Is musical pleasure different from other kinds of pleasure?

  • Looking for Spinoza: Joy, Sorrow, and the Feeling Brain — António R. Damásio — 2003

The difference between emotions and feelings. A personal investigation into the life of Spinoza.

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