SCIENCES

Hunger, Thirst, Sex, and Sleep: How the Brain Controls Our Passions

. 2012. 175p. 978-1-44221-823-9. 39.95.
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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.
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