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10 Best Neuroscience Books to Read in 2023


The field of Neuroscience offers a captivating journey into the intricate workings of the human brain and nervous system. For those driven by a fascination with the complexities of the mind, consider Oxford Summer Courses. Embark on a transformative journey through our Neuroscience summer school, where you will have the opportunity to delve into the depths of cognitive science, neurobiology, and psychology. Engage in discussions that unravel the mysteries of the brain and shape your understanding of the world within.


Please note that the following list of books is recommended reading to broaden your knowledge and deepen your appreciation of neuroscience. While some of these books may be included in the Oxford Summer Courses curriculum, the specific content of the summer school can vary. If you wish to study neuroscience with us, you can apply to our Neuroscience summer school.


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1. "The Brain That Changes Itself" by Norman Doidge, M.D.

  • "Learning is the only thing the mind never exhausts, never fears, and never regrets."
  • Published in 2007, this book explores the concept of neuroplasticity—the brain's remarkable ability to adapt and rewire itself. Norman Doidge takes you on a journey through stories of individuals who overcame various brain-related challenges through the power of neuroplasticity.
  • Discussion: How does the idea of neuroplasticity challenge traditional notions about the brain's limitations and potential for change?

2. "The Tell-Tale Brain" by V.S. Ramachandran

  • "The hallmark of a great scientist is the ability to see the commonplace as something brand new."
  • V.S. Ramachandran, a renowned neuroscientist, offers profound insights into the brain's workings. In "The Tell-Tale Brain," he explores a range of intriguing neurological phenomena, from synaesthesia to phantom limbs, shedding light on the complexities of human perception and consciousness.
  • Discussion: How do Ramachandran's experiments and findings expand our understanding of the brain's adaptability and perception?

3. "Phantoms in the Brain" by Sandra Blakeslee and V.S. Ramachandran

  • "Each of us is trapped in our own skull, far more isolated than we'd ever imagined."
  • This thought-provoking book delves into the mysterious world of brain disorders and how they reveal the brain's inner workings. Through case studies and experiments, it explores conditions like phantom limbs, Capgras syndrome, and more, offering a captivating journey into the brain's enigmatic terrain.
  • Discussion: How do these unusual brain conditions challenge our notions of self-identity and the brain's role in shaping our reality?

4. "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat" by Oliver Sacks

  • "Perception is not a passive recording of the world; it is a creative act."
  • Oliver Sacks, a masterful storyteller and neurologist, presents a collection of captivating tales about his patients. These stories illuminate the quirks and complexities of the human brain, showing how even the most unusual neurological conditions can provide profound insights into what it means to be human.
  • Discussion: How do Sacks' narratives exemplify the brain's capacity for adaptation and resilience in the face of adversity?

5. "The Age of Em" by Robin Hanson

  • "The em era will be strange, but it is comprehensible."
  • Venture into the future with Robin Hanson as he explores the concept of "ems" or brain uploads—digital replicas of human minds. In this thought-provoking book, Hanson delves into the potential implications of this technology on society, economy, and human existence.
  • Discussion: How might the idea of brain uploads challenge our understanding of consciousness, identity, and the human experience?

6. "The Tangled Mind: Unravelling the Origin of Human Nature" by Richard Davidson and Sharon Begley

  • "The mind is a labile and ever-changing product of the brain, responsive to the vagaries of life."
  • Richard Davidson and Sharon Begley delve into the complexities of human nature and the brain's role in shaping our behaviour, emotions, and well-being. This book explores how our brains contribute to our individual and collective human experience.
  • Discussion: How can understanding the neural basis of human nature lead to improvements in mental health, relationships, and societal well-being?

7. "The Self Illusion: How the Social Brain Creates Identity" by Bruce Hood

  • "Our selves are constructed within our brains, not handed to us by some inner essence."
  • Bruce Hood offers a compelling exploration of the concept of the self and identity. He delves into how our brains construct the idea of self and the implications of this process on our perceptions, interactions, and societal structures
  • Discussion: How does the brain's role in shaping our sense of self influence our understanding of identity, empathy, and social dynamics?

8. "Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst" by Robert Sapolsky

  • "We are biology. We are reminded of this at the beginning and the end, at birth and at death."
  • Robert Sapolsky takes a deep dive into the biological underpinnings of human behaviour. He explores how our brains and bodies contribute to our actions, from altruism to aggression, shedding light on the intricate interplay of genes, environment, and biology.
  • Discussion: How can understanding the biological basis of behaviour inform our approaches to issues like crime, morality, and conflict resolution?

9. "The Brain: The Story of You" by David Eagleman

  • "The brain, being the most intricate device in the universe, defies any simple story."
  • David Eagleman offers a captivating journey through the brain's mysteries, covering topics from consciousness to time perception. This book invites readers to explore the essence of their own identities through the lens of neuroscience.
  • Discussion: How does Eagleman's exploration of the brain's perception of time and selfhood challenge our notions of reality and existence?

10. "How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed" by Ray Kurzweil

  • "The neocortex is not a single thinking engine but a vast collection of highly parallel processors."
  • Ray Kurzweil delves into the fascinating concept of reverse-engineering the brain to create artificial intelligence. He explores how understanding the brain's structure and functions can lead to advancements in AI and a deeper comprehension of human cognition.
  • Discussion: How might the quest to replicate human thought in AI impact fields like healthcare, technology, and education?


Oxford Summer Courses invites you to embark on a transformative journey through the captivating world of neuroscience. In this blog post, we've meticulously curated a list of 10 essential neuroscience books that will revolutionise your understanding of the brain. From the concept of neuroplasticity to the mysteries of consciousness and human behaviour, these books will immerse you in the intricate realm of neuroscience. Join us on this enlightening odyssey and uncover the secrets of the most complex organ in the human body. Who knows, you might just kindle a lifelong passion for understanding the brain and its infinite wonders.


Apply now to explore the fascinating world of Neuroscience at Oxford Summer Courses. Elevate your academic journey and join a community of inquisitive learners from around the world. Apply here.

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Ignite your passion for neuroscience at Oxford Summer Courses. Immerse yourself in a thoughtfully selected list of books that delve into the mysteries of the brain, cognitive science, and the fascinating world of neuroscience research. Gain valuable insights from experts in the field and embark on a transformative journey to enhance your expertise in neuroscience.

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