Bear (Mark), Connors (Barry) & Paradiso (Michael)
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An Overview1 of the Book

  1. The book is divided into four parts:
    • Part I, Foundations: We begin Part I by introducing the modern field of neuroscience and tracing some of its historical antecedents. Then we take a close look at the structure and function of individual neurons, how they communicate chemically, and how these building blocks are arranged to form a nervous system.
    • Part II, Sensory and Motor Systems: In Part II, we go inside the brain to examine the structure and function of the systems that serve the senses and command voluntary movements.
    • Part III, The Brain and Behavior: In Part III, we explore the neurobiology of human behavior, including motivation, sex, mood, emotion, sleep2, language, and attention.
    • Part IV, The Changing Brain: Finally, in Part IV, we look at how the environment modifies the brain, both during development and in adult learning and memory.
  2. The human nervous system is examined at several different levels, ranging from the molecules that determine the functional properties of neurons, to the large systems in the brain that underlie cognition and behavior. Many disorders of the human nervous system are introduced as the book processes, usually within the context of the specific neural system under discussion. Indeed, many insights into the normal functions of neural systems have come from the study of diseases that cause specific malfunctions of these systems. In addition, we discuss the actions of drugs and toxins on the brain, using this information to illustrate how different brain systems contribute to behavior and how drugs may alter brain function.
  3. Organization of Part I: Foundations (Chapters 1-7)
    • The goal of Part I is to build a strong base of general knowledge in neurobiology. The chapters should be covered sequentially, although Chapters 1 and 6 can be skipped without a loss of continuity.
    • In Chapter 1, we use a historical approach to review some basic principles of nervous system function, and then we turn to the topic of how neuroscience research is conducted today. We directly confront the ethics of neuroscience research, particularly that which involves animals.
    • In Chapter 2, we focus mainly on the cell biology of the neuron. This is essential information for students inexperienced in biology, and we find that even those with a strong biology background find this review helpful. After touring the cell and its organelles, we go on to discuss the structural features that make neurons and their supporting cells unique, emphasizing the correlation of structure and function.
    • Chapters 3 and 4 are devoted to the physiology of the neuronal membrane. We cover the essential chemical, physical, and molecular properties that enable neurons to conduct electrical signals. Throughout, we appeal to students' intuition by using a commonsense approach, with liberal use of metaphors and real-life analogies.
    • Chapters 5 and 6 cover interneuronal communication, particularly chemical synaptic transmission. Chapter 5 presents the general principles of chemical synaptic transmission, and Chapter 6 discusses the neurotransmitters and their modes of action in greater detail. We also describe many of the modern methods used to study the chemistry of synaptic transmission. Later chapters do not assume an understanding of synaptic transmission at the depth of Chapter 6, however, so this can be skipped at the instructor's discretion. Most coverage of psychopharmacology appears in Chapter 15, after the general organization of the brain and its sensory and motor systems has been presented. In our experience, students wish to know where, in addition to how, drugs act on the nervous system and behavior.
    • Chapter 7 covers the gross anatomy of the nervous system. Here we focus on the common organizational plan of the mammalian nervous system by tracing the brain's embryological3 development. (Cellular aspects of development are covered in Chapter 22.) We show that the specializations of the human brain are simple variations on the basic plan that applies to all mammals.
    • The Chapter 7 appendix. An Illustrated Guide to Human Neuroanatomy, covers the surface and cross-sectional anatomy of the brain, the spinal cord, the autonomic nervous system, the cranial nerves, and the blood supply. A Self-Quiz will help students learn the terminology. We recommend that students become familiar with the anatomy in the Illustrated Guide before moving on to Part II.
  4. Organization of Part II: Sensory and Motor Systems (Chapters 8-14)
    • Part II surveys the systems within the brain that control conscious sensation and voluntary movement. In general, these chapters do not need to be covered sequentially, except for Chapters 9 and 10 on vision and Chapters 13 and 14 on the control of movement.
    • We chose to begin Part II with a discussion of the chemical senses — smell and taste — in Chapter 8. These are good systems for illustrating the general principles and problems in the encoding of sensory information, and the transduction mechanisms have strong parallels with other systems.
    • Chapters 9 and 10 cover the visual system, an essential topic for all introductory neuroscience courses. Many details of visual system organization are presented, illustrating not only the depth of current knowledge but also the principles that apply across sensory systems.
    • Chapter 11 explores the auditory system, and Chapter 12 introduces the somatic sensory system. Audition and somatic sensation are such an important part of everyday life that it is hard to imagine teaching introductory neuroscience without discussing them. The vestibular sense of balance is now also covered in a separate section of Chapter 11. This placement offers instructors the option to skip the vestibular system at their discretion.
    • In Chapters 13 and 14, we discuss the motor systems of the brain. Considering how much of the brain is devoted to the control of movement this more extensive treatment is clearly justified. We are well aware, however, that the complexities of the motor systems are daunting to students and instructors alike. We have tried to keep our discussion sharply focused, using numerous examples to connect with personal experience.
  5. Organization of Part III; The Brain and Behavior (Chapters 15-21)
    • Part III explores how different neural systems contribute to different behaviors, focusing on the systems where the connection between the brain and behavior can be made most strongly. We cover the systems that control visceral function and homeostasis, simple motivated behaviors (such as eating and drinking), sex, mood, emotion, sleep4, consciousness, language, and attention. Finally, we discuss what happens when these systems fail during mental illness.
    • Chapters 15-19 explore a number of neural systems that orchestrate widespread responses throughout the brain and the body. In Chapter 15, we focus on three systems that are characterized by their broad influence and their interesting neurotransmitter chemistry; the secretory hypothalamus, the autonomic nervous system, and the diffuse modulatory systems of the brain. We discuss how the behavioral manifestations of various drugs may result from disruptions of these systems.
    • In Chapter 16, we look at the physiological factors that motivate specific behaviors, focusing mainly on very recent research on the control of eating habits. Chapter 17 investigates the influence of sex on the brain and the influence of the brain on sexual behavior. Chapter 18 examines the neural systems believed to underlie emotional experience and expression, specifically emphasizing fear and anxiety, anger and aggression, reinforcement and reward.
    • In Chapter 19, we explore the systems that give rise to the rhythms of the brain, ranging from the rapid electrical rhythms of the brain during sleep5 and wakefulness, to the slow circadian rhythms controlling hormones, temperature, alertness, and metabolism. Part III ends with a discussion of the neuroscience of higher brain functions in Chapter 20 and of mental illness in Chapter 21.
  6. Organization of Part IV: The Changing Brain (Chapters 22-24)
    • Part IV explores the cellular and molecular basis of brain development, and learning and memory, which represent two of the most exciting frontiers of modern neuroscience.
    • Chapter 22 examines the mechanisms used during brain development to ensure that the correct connections are made between neurons. The cellular aspects of development are discussed here rather than in Part I for several reasons. First, by this point in the book, students fully appreciate that normal brain function depends on its precise wiring. Because we use the visual system as a concrete example, the chapter also must follow a discussion of the visual pathways in Part II. Second, we explore aspects of experience-dependent development of the visual system that are regulated by the diffuse modulatory systems of the brain, so this chapter is placed after the early chapters of Part III. Finally, an exploration of the role of the sensory environment in brain development in Chapter 22 is followed in the next two chapters by discussions of how experience-dependent modifications of the brain form the basis for learning and memory. We see that many of the mechanisms are similar, illustrating the unity of biology.
    • Chapters 23 and 24 cover learning and memory. Chapter 23 focuses on the anatomy of memory, exploring how different parts of the brain contribute to storage of different types of information. Chapter 24 takes a deeper look into the molecular and cellular mechanisms of learning and memory, focusing on changes in synaptic connections.

In-Page Footnotes ("Bear (Mark), Connors (Barry) & Paradiso (Michael) - Neuroscience")

Footnote 1: Taken from the Preface.


Lippincott Williams and Wilkins; 2nd Revised edition edition (1 Feb 2002)

"Bear (Mark), Connors (Barry) & Paradiso (Michael) - Introduction to Neuroscience"

Source: Bear, Connors & Paradiso - Neuroscience, Chapter 1

"Bear (Mark), Connors (Barry) & Paradiso (Michael) - Neurons and Glia"

Source: Bear, Connors & Paradiso - Neuroscience, Chapter 2

"Bear (Mark), Connors (Barry) & Paradiso (Michael) - The Neuronal Membrane at Rest"

Source: Bear, Connors & Paradiso - Neuroscience, Chapter 3

"Bear (Mark), Connors (Barry) & Paradiso (Michael) - The Action Potential"

Source: Bear, Connors & Paradiso - Neuroscience, Chapter 4

"Bear (Mark), Connors (Barry) & Paradiso (Michael) - Synaptic Transmission"

Source: Bear, Connors & Paradiso - Neuroscience, Chapter 5

"Bear (Mark), Connors (Barry) & Paradiso (Michael) - Neurotransmitter Systems"

Source: Bear, Connors & Paradiso - Neuroscience, Chapter 6

"Bear (Mark), Connors (Barry) & Paradiso (Michael) - The Structure of the Nervous System"

Source: Bear, Connors & Paradiso - Neuroscience, Chapter 7

"Bear (Mark), Connors (Barry) & Paradiso (Michael) - The Chemical Senses"

Source: Bear, Connors & Paradiso - Neuroscience, Chapter 8

"Bear (Mark), Connors (Barry) & Paradiso (Michael) - The Eye"

Source: Bear, Connors & Paradiso - Neuroscience, Chapter 9

"Bear (Mark), Connors (Barry) & Paradiso (Michael) - The Central Visual System"

Source: Bear, Connors & Paradiso - Neuroscience, Chapter 10

"Bear (Mark), Connors (Barry) & Paradiso (Michael) - The Auditory and Vestibular Systems"

Source: Bear, Connors & Paradiso - Neuroscience, Chapter 11

"Bear (Mark), Connors (Barry) & Paradiso (Michael) - The Somatic Sensory System"

Source: Bear, Connors & Paradiso - Neuroscience, Chapter 12

"Bear (Mark), Connors (Barry) & Paradiso (Michael) - Spinal Control of Movement"

Source: Bear, Connors & Paradiso - Neuroscience, Chapter 13

"Bear (Mark), Connors (Barry) & Paradiso (Michael) - Brain Control of Movement"

Source: Bear, Connors & Paradiso - Neuroscience, Chapter 14

"Bear (Mark), Connors (Barry) & Paradiso (Michael) - Chemical Control of the Brain and Behaviour"

Source: Bear, Connors & Paradiso - Neuroscience, Chapter 15

"Bear (Mark), Connors (Barry) & Paradiso (Michael) - Motivation"

Source: Bear, Connors & Paradiso - Neuroscience, Chapter 16

"Bear (Mark), Connors (Barry) & Paradiso (Michael) - Sex and the Brain"

Source: Bear, Connors & Paradiso - Neuroscience, Chapter 17

"Bear (Mark), Connors (Barry) & Paradiso (Michael) - Brain Mechanisms of Emotion"

Source: Bear, Connors & Paradiso - Neuroscience, Chapter 18

"Bear (Mark), Connors (Barry) & Paradiso (Michael) - Rythms of the Brain"

Source: Bear, Connors & Paradiso - Neuroscience, Chapter 19

"Bear (Mark), Connors (Barry) & Paradiso (Michael) - Language and Attention"

Source: Bear, Connors & Paradiso - Neuroscience, Chapter 20

"Bear (Mark), Connors (Barry) & Paradiso (Michael) - Mental Illness"

Source: Bear, Connors & Paradiso - Neuroscience, Chapter 21

"Bear (Mark), Connors (Barry) & Paradiso (Michael) - Wiring the Brain"

Source: Bear, Connors & Paradiso - Neuroscience, Chapter 22

"Bear (Mark), Connors (Barry) & Paradiso (Michael) - Memory Systems"

Source: Bear, Connors & Paradiso - Neuroscience, Chapter 23

"Bear (Mark), Connors (Barry) & Paradiso (Michael) - Molecular Mechanisms of Learning and Memory"

Source: Bear, Connors & Paradiso - Neuroscience, Chapter 24

Text Colour Conventions (see disclaimer)
  1. Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2019
  2. Mauve: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); © the author(s)

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