Whether judged in molecular, cellular, systemic, behavioral, or cognitive terms, the human nervous system is a stupendous piece of biological machinery. Given its accomplishments—all the artifacts of human culture, for instance—there is good reason for wanting to understand how the brain and the rest of the nervous system works. The debilitating and costly effects of neurological and psychiatric disease add a further sense of urgency to this quest. The aim of this book is to highlight the intellectual challenges and excitement—as well as the uncertainties—of what many see as the last great frontier of biological science. The information presented here is intended to serve as a starting point for undergraduates, medical students, students in other health professions, graduate students in the neurosciences, and many others who want insight into how the human nervous system operates. Like any other great challenge, neuroscience should be, and is, full of debate, dissension, and considerable fun. All these ingredients have gone into the construction of this book’s Sixth Edition; we hope they will be conveyed in equal measure to readers at all levels. We are grateful to the many colleagues who provided helpful contributions, criticisms, and suggestions to this and previous editions.
We particularly wish to thank Paul Adams, Ralph Adolphs, David Amaral, Dora Angelaki, Eva Anton, Gary Banker, the late Bob Barlow, Marlene Behrmann, Ursula Bellugi, Carlos Belmonte, Staci Bilbo, Dan Blazer, Alain Burette, Bob Burke, Roberto Cabeza, Jim Cavanaugh, Jean-Pierre Changeux, John Chapin, Milt Charlton, Michael Davis, Rob Deaner, Bob Desimone, Allison Doupe, Sasha du Lac, Jen Eilers, Chagla Eroglu, Anne Fausto-Sterling, Howard Fields, Elizabeth Finch, Nancy Forger, Jannon Fuchs, David Gadsby, Michela Gallagher, Dana Garcia, Steve George, the late Patricia Goldman-Rakic, Josh Gooley, Henry Greenside, Jennifer Groh, Mike Haglund, Zach Hall, Kristen Harris, Bill Henson, John Heuser, Bertil Hille, Miguel Holmgren, Jonathan Horton, Ron Hoy, Alan Humphrey, Jon Kaas, Kai Kaila, Jagmeet Kanwal, Herb Killackey, Len Kitzes, Marc Klein, Chieko Koike, Andrew Krystal, Arthur Lander, Story Landis, Simon LeVay, Darrell Lewis, Jeff Lichtman, Alan Light, Steve Lisberger, John Lisman, Arthur Loewy, Ron Mangun, Eve Marder, Robert McCarley, Greg McCarthy, Jim McIlwain, Daniel Merfeld, Steve Mitroff, Chris Muly, Vic Nadler, Sulochana Naidoo, Ron Oppenheim, Larysa Pevny, Franck Polleux, Scott Pomeroy, Rodney Radtke, Louis Reichardt, Sidarta Ribiero, Marnie Riddle, Jamie Roitman, Steve Roper, John Rubenstein, Ben Rubin, David Rubin, Josh Sanes, Cliff Saper, Lynn Selemon, Paul Selvin, Carla Shatz, Sid Simon, Bill Snider, Larry Squire, John Staddon, Peter Strick, Warren Strittmatter, Joe Takahashi, Stephen Traynelis, Christopher Walsh, Xiaoqin Wang, Richard Weinberg, Jonathan Weiner, Christina Williams, S. Mark Williams, Joel Winston, and Ryohei Yasuda. It is understood, of course, that any errors are in no way attributable to our critics and advisors.