I'm looking for a textbook in neuroscience for a rigorous introduction to the topic as an autodidact. I have no prior exposure to the field.

In particular, I'm interested in the chemical mechanisms of enzyme modulation, ideally something similar to Lehninger's Principles of Biochemistry where specific Protein Databank ID's are given, so I can load an enzyme in PyMOL and view where the inhibitors/activators bind, in conjunction with an explanation of the actual pathways involved from a molecular level.

I've read Wade: Organic Chemistry, and a good part of Clayden's Organic Chemistry, before self-studying biochemistry for 6 months, to give a little background of my knowledge.

I'm leaning towards Kandel's Principles of Neuroscience after reading some other suggestions here, but this seems like a gigantic text, and I'm unsure how detailed the biochemistry side of things is (which is my main interest)? Could anyone share some thoughts regarding that, or recommend an alternative smaller text with a specific focus on biochemistry?

I'm also concerned that a large amount of data and publications in the field of neuroscience fail replication (something as high as 60% I believe), so the book would need to contain only factual, widely accepted information and not cutting-edge speculative studies that haven't been replicated and widely accepted. Also, as little pharmaceutical-industry influenced as possible.

Ultimately, my interest lies in understanding how different medications and drugs cause different mental states, their exact pathways and mechanisms, and how they form tolerance. I'd like to one day conduct research in how to minimize said tolerance, eg: reverse receptor desensitization. Which book should I begin with to head towards this goal?


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    $\begingroup$ My friend recommended this book Neuroscience by Purves, et al. :) $\endgroup$
    – tdlifed
    Jul 23, 2015 at 13:33
  • $\begingroup$ I realize this was a year and a half ago, but since this question was brought back up: as a (college-taught) neuroscience and biology student, I'm concerned about some of the opinions you mention. Where did you learn that neuroscience data was failing replication? The discussion of how scientific research and theory becomes treated as "factual" can be left for another time, but I'll leave it at this: in a field as new as neuroscience, most studies are, in fact, cutting-edge, and eliminating those will absolutely be detrimental to your understanding of the subject. $\endgroup$
    – Asher F.
    Jan 30, 2017 at 5:11

1 Answer 1


I don't have enough rep yet to comment on your question, but I have read the whole of Kandel's Principles of Neural Science in 2nd year of med school (last year) and I thoroughly enjoyed all of it!

I would recommend Part II: Cell and Molecular Biology of the Neuron to you, as this is where most detailed discussion about the molecolular structure of membrane proteins etc. is happening. And that's only about 110 pages. It probably doesn't go as far as what you are looking for, but I found it a very good introduction to the field of ion channels and how they work. The rest of the book is very interesting if you are keen to get a thorough overview of the whole field of neural science, but you won't find too much detail on the biochemical level there. Part III: Synaptic Transmission with about 150 pages is also a very good read.

For a specific focus on biochemistry you'll have to look for another book, but quite likely you'll find good candidates in the Selected Readings at the end of each chapter, here is one example of those lists from chapter 7:

Selected Readings


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