Neuroscience, 5th Edition


Neuroscience 5th Edition

Purves, D
Augustine, G
Fitzpatrick, D
Hall, W
LaMantia, A-S
White, L

Sinauer Associates: Sunderland, MA., 2012

Neuroscience, Fifth Edition is a comprehensive textbook created primarily for medical, premedical, and undergraduate students. In a single concise and approachable volume, the text guides students through the challenges and excitement of this rapidly changing field. The book’s length and accessibility of its writing are a successful combination that has proven to work equally well for medical students and in undergraduate neuroscience courses. Being both comprehensive and authoritative, the book is also appropriate for graduate and professional use.

Book info at Sinauer [] »


Why We See What We Do Redux


Why We See...

Purves, D
Lotto, R B

Sinauer Associates: Sunderland, MA., 2003

"Although the ideas and evidence about the genesis of what we see in the First Edition were appreciated in some quarters, the reception in others was distinctly cool. Given the opinion of some critics that the wholly empirical concept of vision we proposed was either unbelievable or incomprehensible, we felt duty bound to try again. Our objective was, and remains, to present a different and seemingly inevitable framework for understanding perception and its underlying neural mechanisms.…We hope this new edition will encourage more readers to consider this concept of vision and its implications for interpreting, modeling, and ultimately understanding the structure and function of the human visual system."

Download Flyer for New Edition (PDF)





Purves, D

Financial Times Press Science, New Jersey, 2010


"Dale Purves' Brains is my favorite sort of reading—an engaging and intelligent scientific autobiography full of vivid personal and historical accounts; the story not only of a life but of an intellectual pursuit. Purves has a unique voice, lively, outspoken, and very human—and his love of science comes through on every page."

--Oliver Sacks

Available at Amazon!


Neuroscience, Fourth Edition

Book: Neuroscience, 4th Edition Purves, D
Augustine, G A
Fitzpatrick, D
Hall, W
LaMantia, A-S
McNamara, J O
Williams, S M

Sinauer Associates: Sunderland, MA., 2007

Neuroscience, 4th Edition is a comprehensive textbook created for medical and premedical students as well as graduate students and advanced undergraduates who wish to learn neuroscience. The updated and revised fourth edition was published by Sinauer Associates in the fall of 2007. The editor/authors of the 4th edition are Dale Purves, George Augustine, David Fitzpatrick, William Hall, Anthony-Samuel LaMantia, James McNamara, and Leonard White.

Book info at Sinauer [] »

Principles of Cognitive Neuroscience

Book: Principles of Cognitive Neuroscience Purves, D
Brannon, E M
Cabeza, R
Huettel, S A
LaBar, K S
Platt, M L
Woldorff, M

Sinauer Associates: Sunderland, MA., 2007

Principles of Cognitive Neuroscience is a textbook written for graduate and undergraduate students seeking an introduction to this emerging field. It was published by Sinauer Associates in the fall of 2007. The text is intended to inform readers about the rapidly growing canon of cognitive neuroscience, and to make clear the many challenges that remain in this field. The editor/authors are Dale Purves, Elizabeth Brannon, Roberto Cabeza, Scott Huettel, Kevin LaBar, Michael Platt, Marty Woldorff.

Book info at Sinauer [] »

Perceiving Geometry

Book: Perceiving Geometry Purves, D
Howe, C Q

Springer: New York, NY, 2005.

This monograph was published by Springer in the summer of 2005. The book describes how the full range of geometrical percepts and illusions can be accounted for by the empirical relationship between real-world geometry and the projected images that humans have always experienced. It should be of interest to anyone interested in the perception of form and distance.

Book info at Springer [] »

Why We See What We Do

Purves, D
Lotto, R B

Sinauer Associates: Sunderland, MA., 2003

Why We See What we Do is a book that deals with much of the material presented in this website. It was published in late 2002 by Sinauer Associates, Inc. A second edition is in progress.

Book info at Sinauer [] »

Neural Activity and the Growth of the Brain

Purves, D

Cambridge University Press, 1994

This book is now out of print, but the short lecture series may still be of interest. Brain growth is considered at a macroscopic level by examining brain maps and their molecular substructure, and at a cellular level by investigating the neuronal interactions that influence the formation and maintenance of these structures. The ways that experience influences the maturation of the brain at both macroscopic and microscopic levels are described, and some of the conventional wisdom about these issues re-examined. Anyone interested in how the brain stores information may find the lectures of interest.

Now available as download.

Body and Brain: A trophic theory of neural connections

Purves, D

Harvard University Press, 1988

This book has recently gone out of print. It may nonetheless be of interest to many readers because of its broad historical coverage of the relationship between the growth of the body and the complementary growth and organization of the brain. A particular focus is the development of neurons and their synaptic connections, and the mediation of these interactions by trophic agents. The link between somatic targets and their innervation is considered using simple systems such as the neuromuscular junction and the innervation of autonomic ganglion cells as examples of processes that are presumably characteristic of interactions throughout the nervous system.

Now available as download.

Principles of Neural Development

Purves, D
Lichtman, J W

Sunderland, MA: Sinauer Associates, 1985.

This book went out of print several years ago. The comprehensive account of neural development as it was studied through the mid-1980s and the history of the field prior to that time is of course still pertinent, and will be of interest to many neuroscientists.

Now available as download.

A textbook of developmental neurobiology.

Book info at Sinauer [] »

Readings in Developmental Neurobiology

Image Not Available Patterson PH, Purves D (editors)

Cold Spring Harbor: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, 1982

A compilation of classic papers in developmental neurobiology.

Book info at Sinauer [] »

Back to Top

Other Items of Interest
Sound and Music Research on NPR
Sound and Music Research on NPR

Work on sound and music was featured on All Things Considered on National Public Radio on August 8, 2003. The report concerns the publication of a paper on the subject in the Journal of Neuroscience and features an interview with Purves Lab member David Schwartz. Use the links to the right to hear the NPR piece and read the paper. See Publications for more recent work on music, and General Articles for recent media accounts.

Read the paper [] »
Listen to NPR interview [] »

Appearance on News Hour with Jim Lehrer

An account of some of the work considered on this site was featured on the PBS News Hour with Jim Lehrer on December 25, 2002. A transcript and other information is available on the PBS website. The broadcast can be viewed in its entirety by clicking the image to the left.


Natural Scene Image Database Available
Natural Scene Image Database Available

We have collected a database of range images of natural scenes. For colleagues who are interested in using this database, please contact Dale Purves for more information.

Back to Top

Sylvius for Neuroscience: Visual Glossary of Human Neuroanatomy
S. Mark Williams, Leonard E. White, and Andrew C. Mace
Sylvius for Neuroscience: Visual Glossary of Human Neuroanatomy is an interactive CD reference guide to the structure of the human nervous system. Students can quickly search for a neuroanatomical structure or term, or view an image (or animation) and basic information about the structure just by entering the page number from the text. Students can take notes on the content and share their annotations with other Sylvius users. The program is an essential study aid for learning basic human neuroanatomy.

More information is available at and

Back to Top

General Media
The following articles, TV or radio spots about work in the lab are addressed to general audiences, and may provide additional insight for those who are not scientifically trained, or simply interested in what the media have had to say about this approach.


2010 - 2013 (2013) The Direction and Future of Neuroscience: May 14

Eurekalert! (2012) Emotional expression in music and speech share similar tonal properties: March 14

International Cognition and Culture (2012) Emotion in Eastern and Western Music: March 20

ScienceDaily (2012) Emotional expression in music and speech share similar properties: March 14

The Straits Times (2010) The (vowel) sounds of music. Newshub

2007 - 2009

Alleyne, R (2009) Music mimics the emotion of speech. The Telegraph: December 14

Bates, KL (2009) The biological link between music and speech. Duke News and Communications: December 3

Choi, Charles Q (2009) News Scan Briefs: Explaining the Aperture Illusion. Scientific American: March 29

DeLay, H (2009) Music shows the emotion of the human voice. December 2

Daily News and Analysis (2009) Musical chords mimic the emotion of speach: December 15

Koerth-Baker, M (2009) The biology of music: why we like what we like: December 14

Purves, D (2009) The visual system and the brain: Hubel and Wiesel Redux. December 21

Vieru, T (2009) Music, Emotions and Speech form a whole. Softpedia: December 3

Duke Medicine News and Communications (2008) Duke Team Explains A Longtime Visual Puzzler In New Way. October 13

Kramer, K (2008) Singvogel Mensch. Sueddeutsche Zeitung Wissen: September 2008

Kruglinski, S (2008) Muscical Scales Mimic Sound of Language. Discover Magazine - 100 Top Science Stories of 2007: January

Science News (2008) Scientists explain the 'flash-lag' effect. United Press International: October

Than, K (2008) In Search of Music's Biological Roots. Duke Magazine: May-June

Bates, KL (2007) The Essential Tones of Music Rooted in Human Speech: May 25

Jackson, J (2007) "Virtual Robots" Befuddled by Optical Illusions. National Geographic News: October 11

Just Us (2007) Whither Harmony? June 05

Lodriguss, J (2007) Color in Astronomical Images.

Purves, D (2007) Tones of Music Rooted in Human Speech. May 24

Scenta (2007) Music Tones in Speech: May 25

Science Daily (2007) Essential Tones of Music Rooted in Human Speech: May 24

Tenenbaum, D (2007) Music: The Universal Scale. The Why Files: June 7 (2007) Essential Tones Of Music Rooted In Human Speech: June 01

2004 - 2006

Hareyan, A (2006) Brain Statistics help humans perceive hue, saturation and brightness: April 6

Meredith, D (2005) New book explains age-old mystery of geometrical illusions. Duke News Releases: September 30

Haseltine, E (2004) Why your brain doesn't always make the right decision. Discover Magazine: February 5

2001 - 2003

Ackerman, SJ (2003) Optical illusions: why do we see the way we do? Howard Hughes Medical Institute Bulletin 16(2): 37

Black, R (2003) Science finds key to music. BBC News: August 6

Billock, VA (2003) A framework for vision's bag of tricks. Science May 2; 300: 742-743

Der Spiegel (2003) Der mensch spricht in Tonleitern. Spiegel Online: August 6

Duke Medicine News and Communications (2003) Vision is a 'reflex,' says new book: January 3

El Mundo (2003) Escuchamos con la memoria. August 7

Farley, P (2003) Musical roots may lie in human voice. August 3

Folha (2003) Estrutura de tons da musica surgiu da voz humana, sugere estudo. Folha Online: August 6

Kenneally, C (2003) Songs of ourselves. Boston Globe: November 9

Los Angeles Times (2003) Musical Scale is linked to speech. August 9

Melville, K (2003) Catchy tunes have a common denominator: August 7

Meredith, D (2003) Solving the mystery of musical harmony: Insights from a study of speech. Duke News Releases: August 5

Preidt, R (2003) The Biology of Distance Perception. HealthScout web report.

How We See (2002) Transcript from News Hour with Jim Lehrer that aired December 25th.

Purves D, Lotto RB, Nundy S (2002) Why we see what we do. American Scientist 90(3):236-243.

German translation from Spektrum der Wissenschaft. Spanish translation from Investigacion y Ciencia.

1998 - 2000

Meredith, D (2000) Color scheme: new vision theory states perception of color depends on neural 'reflexes.' Dialogue: Duke University 5: 3

Meredith, D (2000) Tricking the eye or trapping a reflex: vision revisited. Duke Magazine. July-August

Neenan, JM (2000) Colorblind: Why we can be fooled by light and color. HealthScout web report

Novak, K (1999) Shedding new light on luminance perception. Nature Medicine 5: 1238

Purves D (1999) Perception as probability. Brain Res. Bull. 50: 321


Dr. Kiki's Science Hour (2010) Episode 51: What's in a Brain? featuring Dale Purves

Davidson Films (2008) Making sense of sensory information featuring Dale Purves (short clip taken from the original film)

Duke University News (2007) "Music Rooted in Speech" featuring Dale Purves and Jonathan Choi.


Scientific American (2012) Emotion in music mirros speech, 21: March 21

Science Update (2012) Emotional Music: April 17

Knox, R (2003) Origins of music may lie in speech. From NPRs All Things Considered: August 8

Back to Top

Opinions about this approach to vision
It seems only fair to warn those interested in the merits of the general approach to vision outlined here that opinion has been divided about this work. In fact, the majority opinion, to judge from numerous anonymous and a number of signed reviews, has been quite negative. Recent reviews in Science, Nature, Nature Neuroscience, and the Journal of Neuroscience can be consulted to get some flavor of the various complaints and objections that have been raised. Of course, people should make up their own minds, but it would be misleading to present the material, ideas, and demonstrations here without calling attention to their controversial nature. These caveats apply both to the work on vision and music.

Vince Billock (2003) Books: A framework for vision's bag of tricks. Science 300:742-743

David Burr, Book Review (2003) Why we see what we do: an empirical theory of vision. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience 15: 1074-1076.

Michael Morgan (2003) Vision Quest: A radical theory seeks to overturn current views of how we see the world. Nature 423: 919-920.

Alan Gilchrist (2003) Looking backward: Why we see what we do: an empirical theory of vision. Nature Neuroscience 6:550.