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Your Brain on Food: How Chemicals Control Your Thoughts and Feelings 1st Edition

3.5 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0195388541
ISBN-10: 0195388542
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Editorial Reviews

Review


"An absolutely fascinating read (or book) peppered with gems of surprising information on how certain foods, plants, nicotine and drugs (legal and illegal) alter the very essence of your brain cells' functioning and thus your behavior and mood. Don't deprive yourself of the pleasure of reading it."
--Jean Carper, author of Your Miracle Brain and 100 Simple Things You Can Do To Prevent Alzheimer's and Age-Related Memory Loss.


"Your Brain on Food provides ample and important food for thought in a delightfully written reader-friendly style. Kernels of history sprinkled throughout the book provide both interest and insight into how our appetites influence our brains and, and thus, our thoughts and actions. Gary Wenk has provided a compelling and much-needed antidote to commonly available misinformation about nutrients and brain function. Readers will be richly informed--as well as entertained."
--James L. McGaugh, Research Professor of Neurobiology and Behavior, University of California, Irvine


"All of us are impacted by a bewildering array of psychoactive drugs and foods, some being agents of abuse and others being of importance in treating disease. Gary Wenk, a nationally eminent neuroscientist, provides a gripping account of the neurotransmitters that enable neurons in the brain to talk to each other and shows how drugs as well as substances derived from foods exert their psychoactive influences. Wenk has a gift for making complex concepts crystal clear and relating seemingly arcane science in a fascinating, lucid fashion--as gripping as a detective story. This is an invaluable book for anyone who is curious about the brain and its functions."
--Solomon H. Snyder, M.D., Distinguished Service Professor of Neuroscience, Pharmacology and Psychiatry, Johns Hopkins University


"Intriguing"
--Scientific American MIND


About the Author


Gary L. Wenk is a Professor of Psychology & Neuroscience & Molecular Virology, Immunology and Medical Genetics at the Ohio State University and Medical Center.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (July 30, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195388542
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195388541
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 0.8 x 5.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #590,189 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This was a pretty decent book. It discussed chemicals found in nature and their effects on your brain. The title is very misleading though. It discussed almost nothing about normal food you eat, but rather drugs like cocaine, nicotine, etc. Aside from coffee and chocolate there are few foods discussed. I doubt the author chose that title. I bet it was the marketing people who pushed it to sell more books. For misleading the reader I give a C+ to this book.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have had the pleasure of taking Dr. Wenk's class titled "Drugs and Behavior" at The Ohio State University as an undergraduate and I have to say that this book incorporates the best things from the class including Dr. Wenk's own research, odd stories from college students experimenting with drugs such as caffeine and marijuana, his extensive knowledge on neuroscience and its history - all influenced in the telling by his hilarious, dry humor.

The book explores an incredible number of topics ranging from the history of the drug which killed King Hamlet in Shakespeare's play to how Advil works in your brain to stop you from aching in pain. Although Dr. Wenk describes a lot of neuroscience concepts and terms, he always does an excellent job of explaining background information while simultaneously teaching you something new. This is including the concise paragraphs of summary at the end of every chapter which state the big picture.

I'm particularly interested in how the brain works and different types of the neurotransmitters but what I enjoyed most about this book is the cultural and historical contexts of drugs from around the world. For example, there exists a certain mushroom which, when ingested, produces a type of hallucination which causes people to see normal objects a lot bigger or smaller than they actually are. This mushroom and its effect could very well have influenced Lewis Carroll while he was writing Alice in Wonderland (as seen in Alice's adventure in a land of size disproportions). Now this statement is definitely something everyone would be interested in learning, especially at cocktail hour!

EDIT: The real title for this book should be "Your Brain on Drugs.
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Format: Hardcover
The title and subtitle of this book were highly misleading; there was almost nothing about food, thoughts and feelings. Although stuffed with useful and potentially interesting information, the book primarily dealt with the neurochemical details of how drugs affect the body and interact with the brain to create the sensations one experiences.

The transitions between new examples and topics were lacking, making the book feel somewhat choppy, and I found the author's constant, unnecessary references to evolution both annoying and distracting.

Unless you're specifically looking for a primer on drug interaction, I strongly recommend The Crazy Makers: How the Food Industry Is Destroying Our Brains and Harming Our Children, Potatoes Not Prozac: Solutions for Sugar Sensitivity or Natural Prozac: Learning to Release Your Body's Own Anti-Depressants instead - all will be much more useful in exploring the affects of food on mood and human functioning.
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Format: Hardcover
While reading this book, I felt like I was a student who signed up for a class called "Your Brain on Food" but instead was somehow switched into one called "Your Brain on Drugs." Not that this was a undesirable switch...just an unexpected one.

And, it's no coincidence that I felt like I was in class while reading this book--the author is, after all, a college professor. The book's presentation, style, and content are rather lecture-like, but, nonetheless effectively accomplish the author's mission of showing how: "anything you consume--the drugs you take, the foods you eat--can affect how your neurons behave, and subsequently, how you think and feel." (p. X)

In the beginning of the book, the author/professor presents a clear overview of basic neurochemistry, nicely summarizing the path of neurotransmitter production, release, reuptake, and inactivation. (I've actually marked this section to revisit again whenever I need a quick neurochemistry refresher.) The rest of the book focuses on how:
"Drugs and the contents of our diet can interact with any of these various processes and impair, or even sometimes enhance, the production of neurotransmitters, as well as impair their storage into synaptic vesicles, alter their release from neurons, modify their interaction with receptor proteins, slow their reuptake, and possibly even stop their enzymatic inactivation. Because your brain is the organ of the mind, drugs and food that do any of these things can have a profound influence on how you think, act, and feel." (pp.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As an aging adult, I feel the title is misleading. I was looking forward to learning about the effects of food on the brain because that is how I interpreted the title.

For anyone who is raising children and wants to know how drugs affect the brain, this is an excellent book.
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