Sensations of hunger, thirst, sexual attraction, and love can dominate our thoughts to the exclusion of almost everything else, but until the last 10 years or so, the precise reasons why these passions arise have not been understood very well. We now know that these, and other drives like the urge to sleep, are controlled by a small portion of the brain called the hypothalamus. This book presents the latest information about how the brain ...
Sensations of hunger, thirst, sexual attraction, and love can dominate our thoughts to the exclusion of almost everything else, but until the last 10 years or so, the precise reasons why these passions arise have not been understood very well. We now know that these, and other drives like the urge to sleep, are controlled by a small portion of the brain called the hypothalamus. This book presents the latest information about how the brain controls our most basic drives.
In a series of fascinating anecdotes, Young tells the tale of how scientists have discovered the role of the hypothalamus in our basic drives and in medical conditions in which these drives are drastically altered. Covering our need for food, water, sex, sleep, and other life essentials, he reveals the brain’s part in how we provide for each, and how in some cases, those needs can swing wildly out of control resulting in problems such as obesity, diabetes, insomnia, or narcolepsy. He shows how regulating body temperature can affect the lifespan, how the aging process affects sexual behavior, how empathy and love develop in relationships with family members or with love interests, and how all these functions and more can go awry.
Like other science writers before him, Young illuminates even the complex inner workings of the brain in a way that anyone can understand, so that readers are treated to a tour of a tiny part of the brain that is responsible for so many fundamental aspects of life.
Sometimes an author presents an unusually concise, comprehensive, thoroughly readable book on an extremely complex research realm. Here, Young (Howard Univ. College of Medicine) focuses on the neuroanatomy and neurophysiology of the hypothalamus, a relatively restrictive portion of the brain that has intricate influences and controls on vital biological activities. These include hunger, thirst, body temperature, sex (mate selection, love, and empathy), sleep and wakefulness (despite years of intense research, sleep functionality and aberrations remain partially understood), and diverse integrating hormonal controls. Young describes histological preparatory techniques and procedures in rat studies, including experimental modifications. He cautiously transfers his and other scientists' findings from rats to humans, including variations, and notes the inherent difficulties in confirming human studies. He also cites more recent genetic data. The author's explanations enlighten those considering further study in the neurosciences. The concluding chapter offers ethical and philosophical comments on the efficacy and importance of animal research. The volume contains histological pictures (magnifications would have helped) and extensive chapter notes. Any future edition should include more visuals of the brain's gross anatomy. Readers will benefit from a basic understanding of histology and gross anatomy to follow the text. Summing Up: Recommended. Lower-division undergraduates and above; general audiences.
John K. Young's book, Hunger, Thirst, Sex, and Sleep: How the Brain Controls Our Passions, is an excellent, concise summary of the role that the brain plays in the basic biology of behavior.Anyone with an interest in how the brain controls our hunger, thirst, drives and emotions will find the book an enjoyable and informative read.Dr. Young tells many different and exciting stories of discoveries that changed our understanding of the brain. Too often these stories are lost to the libraries of scientific and technical jargon.Here, the rich history of research on the hypothalamus is told with an accessible and enjoyable narrative style that can be appreciated by any interested reader.
Janette M. Krum
Dr. Young explains the enormously complex neurophysiology of the hypothalamus in a relevant, accessible and refreshingly readable manner for the non-scientist. He is a natural teacher, and the book transitions seamlessly between explanations of genetic, anatomical, physiological and evolutionary concepts.
Robert M. Klein
At this time of rapid growth in biomedical science, it is crucial for the lay public to be scientifically literate. In Hunger, Thirst, Sex, and Sleep, Dr. Young demonstrates an outstanding ability to describe complex anatomy and function in an understandable, easygoing style. I enthusiastically recommend this book to those interested in human emotions and the underlying scientific basis for our passions as human beings.
Young (anatomy, Howard Univ.; Introduction to Cell Biology) explains the oversize role played by a relatively small area of the brain; the hypothalamus region controls many bodily functions, including hunger, thirst, sex and emotions, sleep, and hormones. Young organizes the book in five principal chapters, four of which includes a scientific history and explanation of one of these processes (e.g., hunger, sleep), as well as their connections to related diseases (e.g., diabetes, cancer). Young does a good job of anticipating readers' questions, such as why all animals need sleep. While he writes in a fairly informal manner, incorporating first-person recollections and anecdotes throughout, his explanations of the science behind these processes requires much background knowledge. For the nonscientist, each chapter includes references along with instructions on how to look them up in the National Library of Medicine's PubMed database (pubmed.gov). Most of the book's scientific results come from rat and other laboratory animal tests. Though Young includes a discussion of these experiments at the end, those who oppose animal testing will likely find it insufficient. VERDICT For readers with some background in science who want to learn more about the hypothalamus's role in everyday life.—Leigh Mihlrad, National Inst. of Health Lib., Bethesda, MD
John K. Young, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Anatomy, Howard University College of Medicine, Washington, D.C. He has published his work in scientific journals and has written or edited several books.
1. The Anatomy of the Hypothalamus and the Control of Hunger
2. The Hypothalamus and the Control of Thirst and Body Temperature
3. The Hypothalamus and the Control of Sex and Emotions
4. The Hypothalamus and the Control of Sleep
5. The hypothalamus and the Secretion of Hormones.
6. Some Final Thoughts on Mice and Men