The best books on Animal Consciousness, recommended by David Peña-Guzmán

The more we learn about the minds of other species, the more we are forced to question any assumptions that might previously have been made about their inner lives. Here, the philosopher David Peña-Guzmán talks us through the profound questions thrown up by research into animal cognition, perception and emotion, as he recommends five of the best books on animal consciousness.

The best books on Evolutionary Psychology, recommended by Chris Paley

Human traits are a product of natural selection—and the story of how we have evolved explains many of our psychological quirks today. Chris Paley, author of Unthink and Beyond Bad, recommends five of the best evolutionary psychology books—and explains how experimental data might finally get to the bottom of the question of free will.

The Best Books on Emotions, recommended by Lisa Feldman Barrett

Not every culture has a word for ‘fear.’ Smiling was an invention of the Middle Ages. There’s a lot that will surprise you about the way we process emotions, says the neuroscientist and psychologist Lisa Feldman Barrett. Here she picks five books that illustrate our understanding of how emotions work.

The best books on Consciousness, recommended by Susan Blackmore

The ‘hard problem’ of consciousness – of how the physical matter of the brain produces the psychological phenomenon of consciousness – has dogged psychologists and neuroscientists for decades. But what if we’ve been posing the question incorrectly all this time? The psychologist Susan Blackmore discusses five key texts that tackle this quicksilver concept.

The best books on Cognitive Neuroscience, recommended by Dick Passingham

Neuroscience has banished the problem of dualism—the ‘ghost in the machine’ mulled over by philosophists since the time of Descartes, says the renowned cognitive neuroscientist Professor Dick Passingham. Here, he chooses five books that signified major breakthroughs in this fast-advancing field.

The best books on Time and the Mind, recommended by Marc Wittmann

“Time is an illusion,” wrote Douglas Adams. “Lunchtime, doubly so.” It is certainly a subjective experience, agrees the psychologist and author Marc Wittmann—as any drug user or meditation expert can tell you. Here he picks five books that unpick our perception of the passage of time.

The best books on The Decline of Violence, recommended by Steven Pinker

Our TV screens may be full of news about war and crime, but this masks a fall in historical terms in the number of violent deaths that’s nothing short of astonishing, says Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker. He tells us how and why this happened. (This interview was updated 17 December, 2020, to include books that have come out since it was published in 2011)