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Understanding the Brain

Written by: Jeanette Norden,The Great Courses
Narrated by: Jeanette Norden
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Publisher's Summary

Considering everything the brain does, how can it possibly be the source of our personalities, dreams, thoughts, sensations, utterances, and movements? 

Understanding the Brain, a 36-lecture course by award-winning Professor Jeanette Norden of Vanderbilt University, takes you inside this astonishingly complex organ and shows you how it works. With its combination of neurology, biology, and psychology, this course helps you understand how we perceive the world through our senses, how we move, how we learn and remember, and how emotions affect our thoughts and actions. Your tour starts with the organization of the central nervous system at the gross, cellular, and molecular levels, then investigates in detail how the brain accomplishes a host of tasks - from seeing and sleeping to performing music and constructing a personal identity. 

You explore a broad range of exciting topics in neuroscience and come away with a deeper knowledge of how the brain is organized - and a feeling of wonder and appreciation for all that it accomplishes. 

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2007 The Great Courses (P)2007 The Teaching Company, LLC

What listeners say about Understanding the Brain

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  • George H.
  • 2019-05-23

This is essentially a scam

This material is not made to be listened to in audiobook format.

It requires the video to be understood, 90% of the first 2 chapters is her pointing at stuff on a (presumably) whiteboard or video-projection we can't see. And instructions such as "This thing here" don't help when all you have is the audio and a PDF with images.

Now, going past that, the books itself presents information in a seemingly very bad way, I haven't gone through all of it (due to the previously mentioned error) but it seems to fall into the age-old mistake of describing rather than exemplifying and explaining.

It concerns itself with describing what the various areas of the brain are called and the history behind the names... but I wanted to understand the FUNCTION of the brain from this books, that's what the title implies, and it doesn't seem to do that, at all.

It's boring, it managed to spend 1 hour emparting literally no information that my brain cared to remember, which is a rather impressive feat, assuming that's what you were aiming for.

53 people found this helpful

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  • Brian
  • 2020-02-27

More Pictures and Diagrams

Hard to follow many portions of the lecture without more illustrations and diagrams included in the PDF.

13 people found this helpful

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  • AARON ANDRADE
  • 2019-10-16

More in depth into neuroscience than expected

More in depth into neuroscience than expected.
Also many references to visual aids I do not have access to.

9 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • sranine
  • 2021-02-12

Obviously a video without image

The only frustrating thing is that the professor is OFTEN referring to something to look at, which does not even appear in the accompanying pdf. Feels cheap to cut the audio from a video and call it an audiobook. :/

7 people found this helpful

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  • zswift
  • 2022-01-12

great courses fan here; but this one doesn’t work as audio only

I tried overlooking several references to “look at this place on the brain where I’m touching my finger” or “look at this part of the brain” references to things you can’t see in an audiobook. I checked the PDF and there’s only a couple diagrams and she just didn’t do good enough at describing what she’s referring to in a way I can follow along while listening only.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Ironman01
  • 2021-12-07

Not for Audio

The professor has some great information and presents it differently than 3 other Neuroscience books that I have read and is excellent because of that. However, the other flaws make it all but unreadable in audio format. The problem was that the professor of the great course selection was teaching as if we were present in her classroom, constantly referring to models, charts, graphics and pictures and pointing to specific areas on the items and saying "as you can see where I am pointing to...." but we CANNOT see as this is an audio book, and when I downloaded and referred to the PDF supporting document, she did not even show any of those supporting documents or objects that we could refer to in order to better understand her references. Should never be an audio book or provide much better support documents. Preview your books before you provide them as a selection as an audio book.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Shonda
  • 2023-01-28

There is a reason

I thought this teaching was pretty good, I do like to know why certain organs that I have what there primary functions are and the brain is always a mystery to me and I did like the lectures

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2022-11-29

ok but quite outdated

there are quite a few things that have benen proven not to be the case in the last 15 years and a lot of things missing from todays standard. Still a quite good introduction to neuroscience(although the references to visuals Will be annoying if you're unfamiliar with the names of the brain areas) or a decent refresher course.

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  • mzb
  • 2022-06-09

Audio ripped from a (mediocre!) video course

This course requires pre-existing knowledge of neuroanatomy in order to follow the lecturer's constant gesturing at invisible figures not included even in the slipshod pdf. The lecturer also makes gross over-simplifications and repeats dubious and contested claims with aplomb. Handy as a lightweight refresher if you already know quite a bit of neuroscience and know enough to discount the sketchy assertions. Useless otherwise.

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  • A.G
  • 2021-11-05

Good Content and Presenter, Lazy implement by Audible

Overall this a good course, but for the first half of it constantly refers to figures and models that could only be seen if one was watching the lecture as a video. Additionally much of these models are not shown in the accompanying pdf which I believe is an easy place to make up for the the missing content in the audio lectures. If you are able to do a little bit of side work to look up these models and parts of the brain separately it’s worth the time, but it’s obvious most listen to audible due to time constraints or just to listen, so that’s where the clear mismatch is.

It’s worth noting this performance limitation is most likely the company’s cause, not the professor, since they clearly took the video lectures and simply turned it into an audio book after the fact without considering that listeners would not be able to see all thee references.