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Hot cognition explained

Trevor W. Robbins
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/brain/awu177 2620-2621 First published online: 27 June 2014

Emotion and Decision-Making Explained is the bold claim of Edmund Rolls in the title of his new volume, which updates the earlier work Emotion Explained (2005), with the motivation partly to recognize the recent explosive interest in, and overlap between, these two areas of enquiry, as well as to assimilate the new directions stimulated by advances in neuroeconomics and related approaches. The book is a comprehensive survey of the tremendous advances made in ‘affective neuroscience’ over the past 50 years or so, in the context of the many significant contributions and exciting discoveries of Rolls himself and of his collaborators, covering basic anatomical principles, neurophysiology, behaviour and modelling. The volume thus serves to track Rolls’ own intellectual development and research career from early studies in single unit behavioural electrophysiology conducted in macaques, to pioneering experiments on the central substrates of taste and pleasure in humans using functional brain resonance imaging, to the most recent forays into theoretical neuroscience, including computational modelling. In that sense it is perhaps more akin to a scientific odyssey or autobiography than a textbook, although one would struggle to find another single volume that covered so much of relevance in the field with writing so clear and tutorial, doubtless honed by several generations of teaching undergraduates at Oxford University.

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The pedagogical value of the book is enhanced by its clever organization, by 80 pages or so of explanatory appendices and glossary which lighten the burden for the main text, by ample illustrations, and a rich collection of sumptuous colour plates. The book …

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