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Neuroscience (for physicists)

  1. Aug 24, 2014 #1
    I have been always passioned about human cognition. I would like to dedicate this post so that everyone can tell what they think a physicist should know (and if you can, a book or a course to recommend) to develop in neuroscience.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 24, 2014 #2
    Lets start with coding and decoding of neural signals, there is a section in Theoretical Neuroscience, MIT Press.
  4. Aug 25, 2014 #3
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2014
  5. Oct 6, 2014 #4


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    I have made the switch from a physics education (BS) to a computational neuroscience education (PhD). In my case, it played on my physics background (diff eq, calculus, nonlinear dynamics). Learning the electrophysiology and ion conductance models (such as Hodgkin-Huxley or Morris-Lecar) would be important for a modelling approach.

    The thing that benefited me most, though, was attending seminar-style classes, where we read many review papers from the field of neuroscience and report on them in the class. I've taken three such classes (each with slightly different focuses). Everything about cognition I've learned, I've learned on my own time after taking a Learning and Cognition class from the psychology department.
  6. Oct 6, 2014 #5


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    Neuroscience is SUCH a huge field that can be considered on so many scales from molecular to systems.

    I'd start with the classic Kandel and Schwartz text. It's a great foundation and then you can go where you want from there. Get a cheap old edition, they are almost as good for way less money. I refer to that book all the time... it's a treasure.

    Last edited by a moderator: May 7, 2017
  7. Oct 7, 2014 #6
    David Carroll, sorry if I am being rude, but 'Philosophy' of the mind sounds like an excuse for not being able to solve the (not at all abstract) problem of understanding how the mind actually works (cognitive science) and it's neural basis (neuroscience).
    I find extremely interesting and straightforward the Bayesian Probabilistic Modeling approach for understanding and predicting human behavior, learning, and performing intellectual tasks.
    A lot can come from addressing an issue of psychology from the 'computational' point of view, I mean, to consciously simplify the system and work out the mathematics underlying its operation; then making a model that explains the data, running the model in a simulator and test whether the model meets the data.
    In order to do all this, one must have developed a strong logical, mathematical point of view; and must be able to (really) solve questions previously addressed only 'philosophically' by using analytical thinking.
    Maybe this is the reason why the most important scientists in a lot of different branches of cognitive science and neuroscience are physicists.
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2014
  8. Oct 7, 2014 #7
    Aristotle and Plato would certainly describe cognitive science as "Philosophy" in the same way that physics was viewed as a branch of Natural Philosophy. Philosophy doesn't necessarily have to be performed from the armchair. But even deciding which experiments would yield relevant results is done in the armchair.
  9. Oct 7, 2014 #8
    But, no, I don't think you were rude at all. In fact,, I hope I myself don't come off as rude. I'm an aspie, so saying things that don't sound rude is difficult for me.
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