Category Archives: Psychology

Brains: How They Seem to Work by Dale Purves

This book is part autobiography part recap of where neuroscience came from and where it is now. Mr. Purves happened to start university around the time that neuroscience was gaining ground, and he knew many of the top players in this field. Starting with the low-level “how neurons work” all the way through modern guesses at the overarching process of the brain, he allows the reader to understand the field and its major players without having to have knowledge beforehand. In addition to this chance to learn about the brain, this book also gives us a truly enjoyable story with helpful illustrations.

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Filed under Biography, Biology, Neuroscience, Nonfiction, Psychology, Science

The Psychology of Music second edition edited by Diana Deutsch

This book is a comprehensive introduction to the field of music psychology. It’s also designed so that you read only the chapters that have topics you are most interested in (for example, neural networks). This book is absolutely a must-read if you are in the field or trying to enter it, or are extremely interested in the topic. If you want some light reading that gives an introduction, this is not it. All of the chapters are written by top individuals in the field and they are all very scientific. This is a bit like reading many scientific papers on a topic, so it can be exhausting.

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Filed under Music, Nonfiction, Psychology, Science

Beyond Name for Things: Young Children’s Acquisition of Verbs edited by Michael Tomasello and William E. Merriman

For my job in a developmental psychology lab, I have been doing a lot of reading on language acquisition. Although I won’t bore you with the details of the many many scientific papers I have read, I will include the actual books. This one was very interesting. The field of language acquisition ignored verb learning for decades since it was deemed too difficult to study (amongst other problems). This book was the first to have a chance to review all of the main literature on the topic, once it became large enough to have a book about it. Michael Tomasello is one of the top researchers in language acquisition, and more specifically verb learning, so he brought in the other top researchers for this book. There is such a wide range of interesting ideas being presented within the chapters. I quite enjoyed the introductory chapter by the editors in particular, since it discussed why the field ignored verbs for so long, and why they should be studied now. I also found a chapter on the difference between hedgehog and fox problems (easy formulaic solutions versus cunning and problem solving) by Michael Maratsos and Gedeon De√°k quite fascinating. They explained why the field assuming there are simple rules for children to learn and follow to learn verbs (hedgehog solutions) is a ridiculous¬†idea that needs to be overturned. Anyone interested in how children learn words (especially verbs obviously) should read at least a few of these chapters!

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Filed under Language Acquisition, Nonfiction, Psychology, Science

The Power of Music: Pioneering Discoveries in the New Science of Song by Elena Mannes

I’m very interested in music cognition, so this seemed like a great book to start out with. It was an easy read that was enjoyable, but at times it was preachy about the wonderfulness of music, which got a bit tiring. It also didn’t talk about the psychology of music nearly as much as I expected. If you’re interested in how musicians think about music, and the power that music can have, this is a great book. If you’re interested in the science of music, try something else.

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Filed under Music, Nonfiction, Psychology, Science