Cerebrum Spring 2021

BOOKSHELF A few brain-science books that have recently caught our eye

mathematical modeling, and the insights these models reveal about the brain. According to Lindsay, the brain will ultimately be understood through mathematical and computational theories, imperfect though they may be. Models of the Mind is a captivating and compelling anthology of why she may be right. Smellosophy: What the Nose Tells the Mind


So You Want to Be a Neuroscientist? by Ashley Juavinett (Columbia University Press) Does the thought of dedicating your academic and professional career to studying the brain ever cross your mind? Maybe you’re already in the workforce, searching for ways to transition into neuroscience but uncertain of how that road unfurls. An insightful and practical guide,

by A.S. Barwich (Harvard University Press) A nascent investigative arena, the scientific study of smell experienced a breakthrough in 1991 with the discovery of olfactory receptors, rapidly propelling the branch of research into the realm of mainstream neuroscience. Celebrating this influx of new, sophisticated,

So You Want to be a Neuroscientist? is the north star for the aspiring brain scientist in you. Having launched her own career recently, Ashley Juavinett, Ph.D., assistant teaching professor of neurobiology at the University of California, San Diego, writes candidly about what neuroscientists-in-training should expect when venturing forth on their own paths. The book covers the current state of neuroscience and where it might be headed, what graduate school entails and the importance of networking and finding mentors, what to expect from conducting research in a lab, and the many career possibilities open after training. Juavinett leaves no stone unturned, making her book invaluable for students, educators, and everyone in between. Models of the Mind: How Physics,

“smelly” research, cognitive scientist and empirical historian A.S. Barwich, Ph.D., ventures into the laboratorial trenches and reports from the “experimental frontier,” offering a historical and philosophical analysis of odor perception. Despite the remarkable progress made in recent decades, Barwich says, the puzzle of olfaction—understanding what perceptual information odors represent and how the brain comes to understand it—remains unsolved. Deftly using interviews with experts in psychology, chemistry, neuroscience, and perfumery, Barwich probes the biological underpinnings of odor, identifying the uncertainties and knowledge gaps in current thinking about odor perception—and perception overall. Perfumed with an inviting bouquet of philosophy, history, and neuroscience, Smellosophy is Barwich’s charmingly compelling love letter to olfaction.

Engineering and Mathematics Have Shaped Our Understanding of the Brain by Grace Lindsay (Bloomsbury Sigma) Using the precision and elegance of mathematics to understand the brain is part of the work computational neuroscientist and author Grace Lindsay, Ph.D., performs regularly. Scientists in her burgeoning field—

Stories and the Brain: The Neuroscience of Narrative by Paul B. Armstrong (Johns Hopkins University Press) In Stories and the Brain : The Neuroscience of Narrative , professor of English and author Paul B. Armstrong, Ph.D., explains how the brain interacts with the social world and why stories are so important. Expanding on

those unifying mathematics and biology—reduce complex biological processes into painstakingly accurate equations and variables when creating useful, predictive mathematical models. In Models of the Mind , Lindsay charts how physics, engineering, statistics, and computer science have influenced brain science and provide the groundwork for the discipline’s future. The chapters cover the history of the different mathematical tools applied in understanding neuronal mechanisms, memory formation and maintenance, the motor and visual cortexes, decision-making, and more. Mercifully, lay readers can jump in and comfortably enjoy the subject matter as Lindsay shies away from requiring special mathematical knowledge on behalf of readers; she instead features the ideas behind the equations, the reasons why scientists employ

the questions of how our brains are suited to the telling and following of stories, Armstrong investigates the neurobiological underpinnings of narrative, shedding light on what our story- telling abilities reveal about language and the mind. Across four chapters, the book explores the roles between stories and experience, discussing neuroscience and narrative theory, the correlations between neuronal and cortical timing processes to paradoxes of narrative temporality, story plots and their use of patterns of action, and bringing different worlds into relation with each other through the exchange of stories. Stories and the Brain is a well-researched, engaging discussion on what narrative theory and neuroscience stand to gain from continued collaboration. l



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