Book Review – Neural Engineering, 3rd Edition (Bin He, Editor)


May 2020

Bruce Wheeler, PhD

Dr. Bin He is to be congratulated on pulling together an even stronger set of contributors and topics to make the third edition of Neural Engineering (Bin He, editor; Springer) a significant enhancement over the second edition. Easiest to note are the inclusion of 22 chapters (an increase of 3), with nine new topics, and three previous topics presented by new authors with fresh perspectives. Perhaps over half the material is new. A quick additional look shows that the new topics are quite timely. Some represent new thrust areas for the field:  intracortical brain-machine interfacing, optogenetics, photoacoustic tomography, and deep learning. Some represent fundamental topics not previously addressed: deep brain stimulation, transcranial electrical stimulation, biopotential measurement, population coding, and dynamic modeling.  Some are topics by new authors with a new perspective: transcranial magnetic stimulation, fMRI, seizure forecasting. Some are updated edits from the previous edition: peripheral nerve interfacing, tissue engineering. The rest are from the previous edition but are all solid and fundamental to neural engineering.

The volume leads off with excellent and detailed overview of neural physiology and systems that is sufficient for graduate neural engineers before specialization. Classic engineering topics – instrumentations, signals, modeling, dynamics – provide a basis for many of the specialized topics.  Several important applications – fMRI, brain mapping, retinal modeling and prosthetics – are given excellent coverage.  Neural Engineering succeeds as a combination of didactic text for graduate students and some seniors, mostly in bioengineering and electrical engineering, as a means of quickly becoming conversant in the areas for researchers working on parallel problems, and as a reference for advanced but general understanding of the field.

Most of the authors have included homework problems, which vary in quality. Some comprise good exercises for collectable homework; all, at a minimum, provide discussion topics, for either inside or outside of class, with which to test and expand student knowledge.  Authors also have included bibliographies that range from quite good to amazingly complete.  Overall the second edition was 800 pages in length, suggesting that the third edition will be more in the 900 page range.

The challenges faced by a text addressing the scope of neural engineering will never be met completely, especially given the field’s breadth and rates of change and expansion. Still, the text goes a long way to covering the field with a combination of fundamental and topical coverage. It will stand the test of time as a combination of text, reference, and tutorial.

More information about Dr. He’s new edition of Neural Engineering can be found here:


Author Biography

Bruce WheelerBruce Wheeler (SB MIT, MS/PhD Cornell) was on faculty at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign from 1980-2008, rising to Professor and Associate Head of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Chair of Neuroscience, and Founding and Interim Head of Bioengineering, creating the BS/MS/PhD in Bioengineering.  Subsequently he served seven years at the University of Florida, including as Acting Chair of Biomedical Engineering, creating the BS BME degree program. Now he is Adjunct Professor of Bioengineering at the University of California San Diego, with a key role in implementing the Biosystems major, his third undergraduate program development.

Dr. Wheeler served the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society as President, Vice President for Finance, and Editor in Chief of the IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering.

Dr. Wheeler’s research exploited electrical engineering methodologies to advance neuroscience. His work influenced neural spike sorting technologies, microelectrode arrays for recording from brain slices, and greatly advanced lithography to control cells, especially neurons, in culture. This work aims at basic science understanding of small populations of neurons as a basis for insight into the functioning of the brain.

He is grateful for funding from NIH, NSF, Whitaker, SDA, American Epilepsy Foundation and taxpayers of USA, Illinois, Florida and California. He is a Fellow of AAAS, IEEE, BMES, AIME, and IAMBE.