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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Christopher J Graver, PhD, ABPP-CN(Madigan Healthcare System)
Description: Computational neuroscience focuses on understanding different levels of brain networks from neurons to basic networks to system-level models. This book provides an introduction to the field.
Purpose: The main purpose is to provide a foundation to facilitate understanding of the more advanced scientific literature. This second edition provides updates with new ideas and models, as well as additions to make it a more user-friendly textbook for students.
Audience: The core audience for this book is students in the neurosciences and cognitive psychology. Readers in similar fields who are unfamiliar with computational neuroscience could also use this as a primer. The author is on the faculty at Dalhousie University and has published a number of articles and book chapters in the computer sciences.
Features: A brief introduction to systems and the idea of brain processing as anticipatory rather than reactive begins the book. Both technical terminology and common examples enhance understanding. Basic neuronal anatomy and functioning is covered next, with a basic introduction to computational modeling in MATLAB. Although the computer code might seem daunting at first to novice readers, an explanation of what is going into the simulation code is transparently provided. Each subsequent chapter builds in complexity both for neuronal networks and the associated modeling. Each of these chapters integrates the neuroanatomy with the computer science well. Figures and tables illustrate concepts and provide equations, as well as sample code. Appendixes provide additional foundational information on equations, calculus, basic probability, and basic information theory. An introduction to MATLAB is also provided. There is not an abundance of references, but a review of the literature was not the intent of the book. Suggestions for additional readings are provided at the end of each chapter. Additional information in terms of animations and programs also can be gained from the author's website.
Assessment: As an introductory and foundational text for students, this book works quite well. It is well organized, easy to reference, and uncomplicated as far as this technical topic goes. The neuroanatomy is truly integrated with computer modeling and includes real-world examples of the phenomena to place a concrete face on an otherwise abstract body. The second edition includes many new features that make the update worthwhile.