[Neuroscience] Re: How to train yourself in neuroscience

John H. via neur-sci%40net.bio.net (by bingblat from goaway.com.au)
Sat Aug 11 00:37:35 EST 2007

1. Find a mentor or many of the same.

This may not be possible but it can help a lot. There are many online forums
where various professionals are quite generous and willing to help. There
are two here that helped me address some specific problems.

2. Reading is endless, understanding is limited.

On the one hand there are books claiming that is or that is the case and
other texts screaming that that this or that is all wrong and we must start
all over. You will first need to acquire mastery in determining which texts
to read. You will need to read frequently until the basic concepts are
familiar to you. You must appreciate that many texts on neuroscience that
are written for a popular audience are extremely simplified. There are
different levels of analysis, if you wish to attain any significant mastery
you will need to dig much deeper than what is available at the bookstore. I
think you would be far better off starting with good text books than popular
science accounts of neuroscience. "Priniciples of Neural Science", Kandel et
al, is an excellent start. You know you're getting somewhere when you go to
a place like Highwire Press to look for free research articles. Also,

3. Beware of metaphors

"The eye is like a camera." Bollocks, totally misleading. "The brain is like
a computer". More bollocks, with the possible exception of a lobe in the
Whenever you see people reaching for metaphors keep in mind that their
motivation may be that they can't approach the problem in a more direct

4.  Expect mysteries, not mastery

Do you appreciate what you are asking of yourself? "Neuroscience" is a big
field, you may attain mastery of a small portion but never the field. You
will become more confused, not less, then after much effort some clarity may
follow. You have been warned. It can be a bit like this:

"Before you study Zen, mountains are mountains and rivers are rivers.
While you are studying Zen, mountains are no longer mountains and rivers are
no longer rivers.
When you have finished Zen, mountains are mountains and rivers are rivers.

Be patient, it is a long and winding road and the doors of perception don't
open that often. (Oh that's just terrible, a Beatles and Doors reference in
one sentence.)

"Jesse Hogan" <JesseHogan0 from gmail.com> wrote in message
news:1186775267.822932.175570 from j4g2000prf.googlegroups.com...
> Hello,
>    I have decided to dedicate a significant portion of my time to
> understanding neuroscience. I would like to attain a mastery of the
> subject but I am having a hard time finding a good list of books I
> should read on the subject.
> (I found this but am not so sure:
> Does anyone know of a list of books that will take me from "Whats a
> synapsis?" to an understanding of neuroscience that is comparable to
> an actual scientist's. Thanks.

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