So you want to be an armchair neuroscientist? 6 of the best Introductory Neuroscience books

As I ease back into neuroscience after being accepted into a PhD program, I’m going back and re-reading old textbooks, as well as picking up new ones. I’m refreshing my memory and also learning a ton of new things, including from the books below. In order from highest to lowest perceived difficulty, here are some of my recent neuroscience reads.

Clinical Neuroanatomy Made Ridiculously Simple by Stephen Goldberg

This now-classic text presents the most relevant points in clinical neuroanatomy with mnemonics, humor and case presentations.

A great introduction to clinical neuroscience, it does go in-depth in terms of brain structures and function, and one of the more complicated books in this list.

However, if you have a basic understanding of neuroanatomy and neurophysiology already, this is a great book to get the clinical perspective and a deeper view of the brain’s structure.

Not for the weak-willed.

Cranial Nerves by Linda Wilson-PauwelsElizabeth J. Akesson

Featuring three-dimensional, color-coded illustrations, this classic work describes how the 12 major nerve systems connect the brain to the body systems they control. 

This book is a great overview of all 12 cranial nerves, and go deep into cranial nerve structure and function. Also not for the weak-willed, you definitely need a deep understanding of the anatomy of head and neck, including vessels. Definitely a book for a biology or neuroscience major, or medical students.

The Student’s Guide to Cognitive Neuroscience by Jamie Ward

Written in an engaging style by a leading researcher in the field, this book will be invaluable as a core text for undergraduate modules in cognitive neuroscience. It can also be used as a key text on courses in cognition, cognitive neuropsychology or brain and behaviour. Those embarking on research will find it an invaluable starting point and reference.

One of my favorite neuroscience textbooks, I read this one for my cog neuro undergrad course, and then again some years later for a refresher. It’s perfectly written, with wonderful illustrations, clear-cut writing, and laser-sharp knowledge. Perfect to read with only a basic understanding of psychology. It’s one of the best neuro textbooks I’ve come across.

Read my full review here.

Neuroscience: Exploring the Brain by Mark F. BearBarry W. ConnorsMichael A. Paradiso

Widely praised for its student-friendly style and exceptional artwork and pedagogy, Neuroscience: Exploring the Brain is a leading undergraduate textbook on the biology of the brain and the systems that underlie behavior.

Also an undergrad neuro textbook I read for class, this is a great catch-all neuroscience textbook that goes through history, histology, structure, and function with just enough depth to not be overwhelming but still comprehensive. One of the better textbooks I’ve read, and one I highly recommend. When I taught neuroscience to high school students, I used excerpts from this textbooks to help provide additional reading material. This is a great textbook if you have a solid biology understanding, but a strong neuroscience background isn’t needed. After reading this textbook, you’ll be able to understand neuroscience well enough to read neuroscientific research articles and papers.

The Naked Brain: How the Emerging Neurosociety Is Changing How We Live, Work, And Love by Richard Restak

In The Naked Brain, bestselling author Richard Restak explores how the latest technology and research have exposed the brain and how we think, feel, remember, and socialize in unprecedented and often surprising ways.

A great overview of key research papers through neuroscience and psychology, this book is definitely more pop-science than textbook, but still gives a brief overview of key studies in both fields .It also highlights why those studies were important, and how we’ve learned from those experiments.

A wonderful addition to better understanding famous studies and papers.

Essentials of the Brain: An Introductory Guide by Rudolph C. Hatfield

Written in plain English by an expert neuropsychologist, this ultimate user’s guide will help you learn about the most influential part of your body. 

This is a great book for someone who wants to ease into neuroscience and psychology, or who simply wants a basic understanding in a fun way. Clearly written with great illustrations, this is the perfect neuroscience intro book for those without a background in STEM.

Read my full review here.

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