Connectome, by Sebastian Seung.

Read. This. Book.connectomecover
This one is in my top three psychology books for A level students to read this year. It is exciting because it sketches out some future directions that cognitive neuroscience is going to take in the coming years and decades.
When Galileo pointed his telescope at the night sky, he saw for the first time the machinery of planetary motion. This laid the foundations for our modern understanding of astronomy. The same is happening today in brain science. The ongoing improvement in brain scanning is driving new understanding of how the brain actually works. This book is a guide to the road ahead.
Not only that, but the first few chapters are a brilliant primer on the basics of neuroscience and biopsychology, and will be great revision for this part of the exam.
A really interesting read, and very accessible.
“A connectome is the totality of connections between the neurons in a nervous system.”
“In the nineteenth century, the American psychologist William James wrote eloquently of the stream of consciousness, the continuous flow of thoughts through the mind. But James failed to note that every stream has a bed. Without this groove in the earth, the water would not know in which direction to flow. Since the connectome defines the pathways along which neural activity can flow, we might regard it as the streambed of consciousness.
The metaphor is a powerful one. Over a long period of time, in the same way that the water of the stream slowly shapes the bed, neural activity changes the connectome. The two notions of the self – as both the fast-moving, ever-changing stream and the more stable but slowly transforming streambed –  are thus inextricably linked. This book is about the self as the streambed, the self in the connectome – the self that has been neglected for too long.”

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The split brain: A tale of two halves, by David Wolman

In the 1960s and 70s, a number of patients had their brains split surgically: the left and right hemispheres were separated by severing the corpus callosum. This was to cure epilepsy. At first there didn’t seem to be any side effects, but then the patients started reporting strange experiences, like their left and right hands attempting to put on different clothes.

This was the beginning of an amazing series of experiments, which has shed light on what the functions of the two different sides of the brain. You might have read some pop-psychology about how the right brain is “creative”, and how we need to engage “whole brain thinking.” This kind of dumbed-down drivel unfortunately pervades the science pages of the popular press, and has found its way into business and education orthodoxy. The truth is way more interesting.

This article in nature also contains a couple of great videos, and an excellent podcast.

Nature Volume:483, Pages:260–263 Date published:(15 March 2012)

http://www.nature.com/news/the-split-brain-a-tale-of-two-halves-1.10213