Visually, this book is a pleasure to read. Despite its equation-rich text,
it is liberally sprinkled with well chosen and well designed figures. Many
of these are real biological images, and others are clear theory figures that
illustrate simply the points the author wishes to make. Headings are pithy
and frequent, and the chapters are relatively short. Consequently, it is relatively
easy to flip around and find the sections relevant to one's interest. Moreover,
each chapter has a 'recapitulation' of one or two pages that summarizes its
salient points. Koch's style is captivatingly casual and extremely clear.
The informality of the style communicates the excitement, mystery and challenge
of the field. The last chapter ends with Koch's idiosyncratic suggestions
for thesis topics, presented to illustrate some of the very many fundamental
problems waiting to be tackled.

This book should be read by all aspiring computational neuroscientists.
It will help physicists, computer scientists, engineers and mathematicians
understand how nervous systems work. It should also be read by experimental
neuroscientists who are somewhat befuddled by the kinds of problems that many
computational neuroscientists find interesting. The perspective found here
is just enough different from that of conventional cellular neuroscience to
make this book fascinating. For those biologists with less mathematical training,
the book can be read around the equations, and will still provide intuition
both into the nervous system and into why computational neuroscientists often
fixate, somewhat seemingly inexplicably, on certain features of biological
data.

In the 'bad old days' when neural networks dominated the field of computational
and theoretical neuroscience, experimentalists were often accused by theorists
of filling the literature with reams of boring biological details that obscured
the 'big picture'. In contrast, in this book, Koch shows deep respect for
the biological literature. This is seen eloquently in the chapter on unconventional
computing, which introduces the kinds of computation made possible by macromolecular
switches, gases, extracellular space and neuropeptides. This respect will
ensure that the book will have credibility with its biological audience. Equally
importantly, the respect and appreciation that Koch shows for the biological
literature teaches young theorists that the aim is to understand the deep
mysteries of how the brain computes, not deny them.