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Understanding the Brain  By  cover art

Understanding the Brain

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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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.

51 people found this helpful

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More Pictures and Diagrams

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

12 people found this helpful

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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

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

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. :/

6 people found this helpful

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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.

2 people found this helpful

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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.

1 person found this helpful

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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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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.

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obviously not made for audible

I took a neuroscience course as part of my PhD program, but it has been 24 years since then, and I am a physician now. It was a good refresher without all the molecular biology, and no pressure to memorize anything for tests. I wish this would have been made for Audible, though, without all of the references to diagrams, pictures, thr positions of her hands, etc.

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  • Steve M.
  • 06-07-20

Tedious

The content is detailed and comprehensive and I certainly learned a great deal. However, the presenter, although very knowledgeable, does not do it justice. To this UK English speaker her accent was distracting and her use of grammar was not appropriate. For example she continuously used the phrase "...is going to be..." when simply " ...is... " should be used. It really does become annoying. But worse, she is clearly referring to visual aids which are not available to the listener. As such, this course is not suitable for sale in Audible unless all aids are available in the pdf and signposted in the presentation.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 11-18-20

great course... but only half value without images

I would have loved to watch this course but in audio it was frustrating. She is a great presenter, but she keeps pointing to the brain model, brain tissue samples, diagrams and MRI images. The other courses in the series were more adapted to listening only. I strongly recommend you buy this course, but on video, not on audio.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Geurt
  • 11-25-19

Excellent teacher

I love it, Jeanette Norden is a very good teacher. She explains it so you can easily understand it.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Marek
  • 07-29-22

Packed with facts

Great overview of the tip of the iceberg. It enhanced greatly my very basic understanding of the subject. I believe it would be very helpful to watch the video version as the presenter is often using phrases such: "This is here...", "Look there..." etc.

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  • Ashley Russell
  • 06-15-22

A great sounding course but not for an audiobook.

The content and delivery are good but she referred too often to images and a physical model of the brain. This made it quite difficult to follow without sitting next to my computer and looking up the structures she was talking about.

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  • Mark Nichols
  • 09-01-21

Keep listening - it’s worth it

For the first 2-3 hours I was considering leaving this book and leaving a negative review. This was not due to the content but the fact it covers some very complex notions on how the brain is organised and operates with multiple references to images - I found myself googling at times just to conceptualise what the hell the speaker was talking about. After this though I really started appreciating the breadth and depth applied to covering this challenging topic and was fascinated again and again. My views on the brain have changed radically now and I now look at others and myself in a different light. I will listen to this book again I think.