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Brain Psychology books

Best books on the brain?

Best brain books?Hi, all,

Cerebrum is an excellent journal for the general reader, published by The Dana Foundation. Back in 1999, Cerebrum gave a list of the great books on the brain, and now they have updated the list. You can get it at

and you should.

At the same time, you also should recognize that the list has a big problem. Here is how Cerebrum went about selecting "the best current and classic books" on current neuroscience. They asked the readers of Cerebrum, "regular readers."

More than 70 of you responded—thank you! Your choices were forwarded to Dana Alliance members, who were asked to send in their top choices. After we heard from more than 30 members, we made a final tally, which was reviewed by Cerebrum’s scientific advisors.

In other words "regular readers" nominated some, then brain experts nominated some, and a group of "scientific advisors" made the final pick.

The presence of the experts and scientific advisors guaranteed that there were no lemons-fine. But the editors set out to get books for "regular readers." That means that they got books that were the most readable, that had been worked over by editors at the publishers, and in general that had had their scientific ideas toned down or hyped up for ordinary readers. Commonly, these books exaggerate their ideas and findings, blurring the line between the proven and the hypothetical, but making the books more fun to read-and readers more likely to buy them.

With a few exceptions these are books for that mythical, longed-for creature of publishers and authors, "the general reader." Many of them are best-sellers. And they are good books, no question. But the best?

No doubt, it isn't fair to compare them to the heavy-duty books designed for neurology students or professionals in the field. But then you shouldn't call them the "best" books. They are the most readable or the most enjoyable books on the brain. Not quite the same thing.

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