Free Neuroscience e-Textbook.

An animated gif of MRI images of a human head
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I recently decided I wanted to embark on studies of neuroscience. As someone who suffers from childhood onset Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and Major Depressive episodes I know that much about me is tied up in my neurological makeup. Recently I was reading some journal articles about the latest developments in OCD and depression treatments and wanted to understand more about the underlying processes…thus my desire to learn neuroscience.

I spent some time surfing around the web looking for resources. I found a number of resources but many seemed outdated, unmaintained, or only partial. I looked for various textbooks on the subject but their prices were fairly high ($60 on eBay, etc.). I know, I know, that isn’t much at all…but it was more than I wanted to spend at the moment.

I eventually stumbled upon Neuroscience Online: An Electronic Textbook for the Neurosciences. It is a free and online project from The University of Texas Medical School. It is written by a number of faculty members and overseen/edited by Dr. John H. Bryne, Department Chair for Neurobiology and Anatomy.

The work consists of four major sections which are further divided into subsections (chapters): Cellular and Molecular Biology, Sensory Systems, Motor Systems, and Homeostasis and Higher Brain Functions.

I’m just plowing through Cellular and Molecular Biology at this juncture, but the scope and quality of the work is quite impressive. There are numerous images and animations of high-quality throughout the work that help illustrate the various concepts being discussed. So far it has been fairly understandable to my lay perspective (I have no background in medicine and minimal in chemistry, biology, and so on). Numerous terms are clearly defined, though there are also numerous terms which a lay individual (such as myself) are unlikely to be familiar with – but which one can use a search engine/dictionary to define.

Kudos to Dr. Byrne and all his collaborators for an excellent resource!

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