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The "Scientific American" Day in the Life of Your Brain


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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xiii Preface xv Introduction 1 You Gotta Know the Territory: A Short Tour of Your Brain 4 Your Neurotransmitters 6 Charting the Day: Your Body Clocks 8 The Best of Times? 9 COMING TO CONSCIOUSNESS Awake and Aware 5 A.M. TO 8 A.M. 13 5:00 a.m. Waking to the World 14 Your Inner Alarm Clocks 14 Your Brain Chemicals 15 Larks and Owls 16 Coming to Our Senses 19 An Orchestra of Sensory Harmony 20 Touch and Movement: Feeling Our Way 22 Varieties of Touch 23 6:00 a.m. Coming to Consciousness 25 The Seat of Consciousness 26 Emotion, Memory, and Consciousness 27 It's Always About Networking 28 Little Gray Cells and Big White Matter: Myelin in Your Brain 29 Prime Time for Heart Attack and Stroke 31 7:00 a.m. Those Morning Emotions 33 Reason Needs a Neurochemical Boost 34 Can Meditation Help Master Those Emotions? 36 Is There a God Spot in Your Brain? 37 Practice Makes Compassion 39 8:00 a.m. Finding Your Way 41 Why His Brain May Not Ask Directions 42 How We Know Where to Find Our Lost Keys 44 ENGAGING THE WORLD Getting Out and About 9 A.M. TO NOON 47 9:00 a.m. Encountering Others 48 That Face, That Familiar Face 48 Friend or Foe? Read My Face 49 Mirror, Mirror: Copycat Neurons in the Brain 51 The Broken Mirror: Autism Insights from Mirror Neurons and Face Perception 52 10:00 a.m. Peak Performance-or Stress? 55 Stress in the Brain 55 The Alarm That Doesn't Stop: Why Chronic Stress Is So Bad 56 Stress Destroys Neurons 56 Stress Ups the Risk of Alzheimer's Disease 57 The Very Thought of It Is Enough 58 Multitasking-Again? 59 The Limits of Multitasking 60 How Your Brain Helps Your Job Kill You 61 You Can Lull Your Brain Away from Stress 62 Flow Versus Stress 63 11:00 a.m. Decisions, Decisions, and More Decisions 65 The Brain's CEO 65 "Chemo Brain" Can Ambush Your CEO 66 Choosing Economically 67 Making an Emotional Moral Choice 68 Choosing Wearies Your Brain 69 The Brain Has a Section for Regret 70 Noon The Hungry Brain 72 How Hunger Works in Your Brain 72 We're Losing Our Scents 73 Still Hungry? When Hunger Goes Awry 74 Why Calories Taste Delicious 75 Addicted to (Fill in the Blank) 76 Self-Control Sucks Your Energy 78 Yes, There Is Such a Thing as Brain Food 79 THE GUTS OF THE DAY Getting Down to Business 1 P.M. TO 4 P.M. 83 1:00 p.m. The Tired Brain 84 Partial Recall: Why Memory Fades with Age 84 Can You Help Your Brain Stay Young(er)? 85 Predicting Alzheimer's Disease 86 How Forgetting Is Good for the Brain 86 Asleep at the Wheel-Almost? It Could Be Narcolepsy 88 1:54 p.m. Just Time for a Six-Minute Power Nap 89 2:00 p.m. Bored Bored Bored 90 Can't Get No Satisfaction? Maybe It's ADHD 90 ADHD and Risk Taking Could Be Good-Sometimes 92 Wired and Hooked: Addicted to Technology 93 3:00 p.m. Your Pain Is Mainly in the Brain 95 How Pain Hurts Your Brain 96 Mind Under Matter, Mind over Brain 96 Is Hypnosis Real? 98 A Window into Traumatic Forgetting 100 4:00 p.m. Exercise Your Brain 102 Exercise Grows Neurons and Improves Memory 102 Why We Get Food Cravings 104 The Most Dangerous Time for Teens 105 The Teen Brain Is Still Changing 105 But Don't Forget Hormones 106 TIME OUT Letting Go and Coming Home 5 P.M. TO 8 P.M. 109 5:00 p.m. The Dimming of the Day 110 Is It Really Depression? Or Just a Bad Patch? 110 Searching for the Pathway to Depression 111 Maybe You're Just SAD 112 Magnetic Energy May Work When Meds Fail 113 A Peak Time for Suicide 113 Good Grief: Addicted to Grieving 114 6:00 p.m. Coming Home 116 An Oxytocin High 116 Nobody Home? Loneliness Hurts 117 Oh, Those Comforting Cravings. Or Is It Addiction? 119 Bottoms Up: Where Many Alcoholics End 120 Is Addiction the Result Rather Than the Cause of Brain Damage? 121 Still Crazy After All These Years? Aging Isn't Stopping Drug Use 122 7:00 p.m. Gotta Sing, Gotta Dance 124 The Musical Path to the Brain 125 Music Survives Brain Damage 125 Your Brain Expands to Store Music 127 So You Think You Can Dance? 128 Born to Rock 128 The Creative Brain 129 Right Brain, Left Brain? 130 Don't Oversimplify That Right Brain Stuff 131 The Musical Ear Is Learned, Not Born 132 8:00 p.m. Humor Is Healthy 133 The Best Medicine 133 Tracking Your Internal Laugh Track 134 TV Addiction Is No Mere Metaphor 135 WINDING DOWN Fear, Sex, Sleep, and Dreams 9 P.M. TO MIDNIGHT 139 9:00 p.m. Things That Go Bump in the Night 140 How Fear Works in Your Brain 140 Who's Afraid? Not These Brain Cells 141 When the Brain Decides It's Time to Scram 142 The Many Parts of a Violent Brain 144 10:00 p.m. Lust, Sex, and Love 147 Your Brain on Sex 147 Women, Men, and Orgasms: How Alike Are They? 150 Does the Penis Have a Brain of Its Own? 151 What's Love Got to Do with It? Plenty, It Turns Out-for Women 153 Are You Born Gay? Sexual Orientation Is Biology, Not Choice 154 11:00 p.m. Falling Asleep 156 The Five Stages of Sleep 156 Insomnia: Curse of the Night 159 Perhaps Less Is More? 160 Interrupted Sleep? Don't Call It Insomnia. It's Normal 161 Call Me Sleepless 162 Still Awake? Can You Catch Up on Lost Sleep? 163 Is Insomnia Worse for Night Owls? 164 Midnight Sleeping in the Midnight Hour 165 Strolling in Your Sleep 165 Drifting into Dreamland 166 Do Banished Thoughts Resurface in Dreams? 169 Want to Dream More? Try Sleep Deprivation 169 NIGHT CREW AT WORK 1 A.M. TO 4 A.M. 173 1:00 a.m. Night Crew at Work 174 Cleaning Up Your Neural Garbage 175 Why Your Brain Doesn't Take a Break Already 176 The 10 Percent Myth 178 2:00 a.m. Going Against the Clock in Your Brain 179 Disasters on the Night Shift 180 Lack of Sleep Aff ects Doctors as Much as Alcohol 181 Less Sleep? More Fat 181 Biorhythm and Blues: Faulty Clocks 183 Resetting Your Body Clock 183 3:00 a.m. Awake and Anxious 185 Where the Nightmare Begins 185 A False Alarm 186 That Pill to Fix Your Ills Has a Price 188 3:30 a.m. Night Nurse on Duty 189 4:00 a.m. Last Sleep 191 4:30 a.m. Awake So Early? You May Be an Unlucky Lark 192 Your Brain Tomorrow 193 Sources 195 Illustration Credits 213 Glossary 215 About the Author 223 Index 225

About the Author

JUDITH HORSTMAN is an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in publications ranging from USA Today to the Primer on the Rheumatic Diseases (twelfth edition). Horstman's work has also appeared in publications by Harvard, Stanford, and Johns Hopkins universities, numerous magazines, and on the Internet. She has been a Washington correspondent, a Fulbright scholar, a journalism profesor, and is the author of four books.


In this thorough health and science overview, journalist Horstman (Overcoming Arthritis) reviews a full day of brainwork by accounting for the mental processes of everyday activities, arranged by hour, beginning with 5 a.m. and ?coming to consciousness.? Fascinatingly, Horstman shows how, as hormone and neurotransmitter levels change throughout the day, there may be an optimal time for everything. Moving through the workday, Horstman discusses stress, decision-making, hunger and fatigue, ADHD and more, before returning home to cover music, humor, sex, fear and sleep. Horstman's lively prose is packed with useful information: meditation increases attention while delaying aging; brain exercise and a strong social network decrease the odds of developing dementia; diet can quell morning crabbiness, increase afternoon focus, and promote sleep. Multitasking, as Horstman explains, is less like an efficient model of problem solving and more like channel-surfing; stress, she says, ?may be the single worst thing your brain does to your heart.? Information-packed and fully referenced, this Scientific American publication is perfect for anyone with interest in mind/body interaction, mental health or aging. (, August 24, 2009) STARRED REVIEW Drawing on neurology articles from Scientific American and Scientific American Mind, science journalist Horstman creates a seamless and fascinating look at our brain's functioning throughout the day, adeptly noting cycles and processes that may occur by mentioning them in a time context that makes sense. Beginning her exploration at 5 a.m., when the brain begins to return to consciousness, she bases the chapters on each hour in a 24-hour period and groups hours into sections related to typical activities, such as "Winding Down" from 9 p.m. to midnight. She examines how and when other bodily processes and functions, such as hunger, impact the brain. Drops in blood sugar, for example, also indicate lowered levels of serotonin. The explanations are easy to read, and they incorporate anecdotes and callouts that deftly explain neuroscientific content. VERDICT Appealing to lay scientists, Scientific American readers, and all those interested in how to care for their brain as it matures and ages, this book will be a popular science title. (Library Journal)

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