50 Human Brain Ideas You Really Need to Know

Author(s): Moheb Costandi

Published by: Quercus Publishing

Price: £12.99

No. of Pages: 207

ISBN Number: 9781780879109

Book reviewed by: Rhys Davies

This book is not intended for people like us but, in our busy lives where time is very short even when funds aren’t, two hundred pages for £12 can’t be bad. Furthermore, you can give the first quarter on basic Neuroanatomy and Neurophysiology a miss without losing out. That’s unless you want to do some DIY quality assurance.

Of course the 50 short chapters on classical and current subjects in Neuroscience are inadequate. They are not referenced with anything approaching the rigour we would expect in our professional reading. The treatment of the subjects that are ‘close to home’ for us neuro-clinicians is inevitably too brief to add very much. This includes the chapters on ‘Brain-damaged Patients’ and ‘Consciousness Disorders’ (my least favourite turn of phrase in the book).

However, when I picked this up while browsing I was relieved to find that the text did not generally grate with facile enthusiasm. I also liked the signposting to key Neuroscience names familiar to many of us, from their writing and from hearing their keynote lectures. I found this a good compromise in a popular volume, where proper citations ‘would not do’, for those wishing to read more deeply.

I really think that reading three or four pages’ worth on epigenetics, on the connectome, the default mode and on brain-computer interfaces did me good. I might now be able to utter three or four sentences on these subjects, rather just than three or four words. I think it will enrich my ‘proper’ reading over the coming months.

I’d recommend this little book as I might a handbook describing 50 favourite Parisian locations before going there for a weekend. Not as good as an actual visit, certainly nothing like true familiarity with the place or individual locations. Remember to visit the Salpêtrière when you go, by the way…