Your Brain on Food: How Chemicals Control Your Thoughts and Feelings
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Your Brain on Food: How Chemicals Control Your Thoughts and Feelings

3.22 of 5 stars 3.22  ·  rating details  ·  167 ratings  ·  35 reviews
Why is eating chocolate so pleasurable? Can the function of just one small group of chemicals really determine whether you are happy or sad? Does marijuana help to improve your memory in old age? Is it really best to drink coffee if you want to wake up and be alert? Why is a drug like PCP potentially lethal? Why does drinking alcohol make you drowsy? Do cigarettes help to...more
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Published July 1st 2010 by Oxford University Press, USA
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Hjsmith79
There's very little attention paid to actual food and its effect on the brain. Instead, the title would best be changed to "Neurotransmitters Make Us Kooky". That aside, it's a great guide to how neuropeptides control our thinking, movement, mood, awareness and sometimes out personality.
Did you know that the Magi's gifts to Mary, frankincense and myrrh, were not only exotic, fancy-sounding substances one only mentions at Christmas, but both are fairly potent analgesics? Or that our brains manufa...more
Deb
*Unexpected but worthwhile*

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 ac...more
Natasha
This is an excellent primer on neurobiology, but it actually has very little to do with food. It describes the role of various neurotransmitters, and explains the effects of increasing or blocking these neurotransmitters with legal and non-legal pharmaceuticals. The only mention of anything food-like was alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, and ginkgo. So, while interesting, I am not sure why the author titled it "Your Brain on FOOD" He should have just gone with the subtitle- "How Chemicals Influence Y...more
Natalie
This book was not quite what I expected it to be. There wasn't actually much going on in the book concerning FOOD and how it controls your thoughts and feelings. I thought the neuroscience aspect of the book would have been a bit more in depth, but no. However, there was a section concerning psychedelic mushrooms, urine drinking and vikings that proved mildly interesting, not something I intend to try personally, but entertaining all the same.
Peg
Actually I was hoping for more on how actual food effects my thoughts and feelings. Most of the chemicals he talked about were drugs of some sort, both legal and illegal. The stuff on coffee and chocolate were especially confirming! The author is a neuologist and the book is very interesting. He infuses his information with humor, some of it very subtle, so that makes it fun. IT's a pretty quick read.
Heather
Sep 28, 2010 Heather rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: Anni
Shelves: nonfiction
The title and the cover are completely misleading. Pretty much the only thing about foods (with the exception of coffee and chocolate) the author said was that the amounts of certain chemicals are not enough to produce significant effects, if any.

That said, I did learn a few things about how different drugs effect the brain. For instance, I never knew why so many medications prohibit you from drinking alcohol (it multiplies the effects and can be fatal). I also learned why teenagers are so wreck...more
Melanie
This may be one of the most misleading book titles I've ever encountered. In the entire book, there are maybe a handful of sentences actually discussing food. Presumably "Your Brain on Drugs" was already claimed by those PSAs, but that would be the far more accurate title for the book. The vast majority of it discusses the effects of various drugs on the brain, particularly with regards to neurotransmitters. Additionally, the author doesn't seem entirely sure of who his audience is. The books is...more
Vladimir Chupakhin
Title is misleading, there is very very little about actual influence of nutrients on brain functions. Thou I should admit that the description of main brain neurotransmitters are very good.
Patrick Barker
Decent book, there were definitely some interesting parts, but I felt that nothing incredibly interesting was imparted to me. It was more just an affirmation of the status quo.
hannah
The title of this book is an extreme misnomer, but its subtitle is right on track. While not the most exciting way to approach the subject, and while Wenk is far from the most engaging science (or any) writer I've ever read, this is still a rather accessible book about how the neurotransmitters in your brain work with or against or in spite of various chemicals, from nutrients to drugs, that you consume. It's also the first time I've really understood action potentials, after feeling like they w...more
Any Length
The book is great in that it explains how the brain works with the various neurotransmitters and with the substances we put into our bodies. However, it discusses "food" as such only in the end chapter and only as an aside, thus the title is somewhat misleading. However, I think the book has great use to give to anyone who is smoking, taking drugs, eating magic mushrooms, or thinks that brain training or excessive dietary supplements are of any great use. I would recommend this book and found it...more
Helen
The blurb that lures you into reading the book promises that it will tell you about how FOOD interacts with your body and brain to affect your feelings and thoughts. It does not.
It does give a good basic grounding in what different neurotransmitters do, and how the science folks now believe they affect your moods and even your thought processes. However, it doesn't actually talk about food. Unless, of course, we've redefined the word to include the various drugs that are currently prescribed to...more
Meghan
The title was misleading. This book was concerned primarily with the brain on drugs and consumable plants not really "on food" in terms of nutrition or diet which was what I was expecting. Interesting though.
Sarah
Very succinct basic overview...absolutely gives no hope about being able to beef up a slowly ebbing ability to remember anything. Eat less and exercise is the take away. Snake oil is still snake oil. Does give a nice overview of drug mechanisms and neurotransmitter systems if you need that. Its strength is that it doesn't try to do too much-pretty focused and has a decent suggested reading list that is pertinent to that focus.
Lori
Not at all what I was expecting. Total bait and switch, the title sounded so good! I'll admit I didn't finish it. It just didn't seem worth the time. It's not written for a public audience, and talks very little about food. Mostly it focuses about drugs and specific chemicals. It's fairly technical and not the kind of thing you could just read through because it looks interesting.
Carrie
Wow, I really don't know why they put "Food" in the title. This book is about how chemicals affect the brain...there isn't anything in here about food at all except for a few pages about glucose. Mostly it discusses how various drugs (e.g., cocaine, marijuana, etc.) affect the brain. It was interesting and well-written, but it is not what I had anticipated at ALL.
Sondra
I actually took a drugs and behavior class taught by Dr. Wenk, and this is a good outline for the things we learned. I thought it was interesting and it didn't really feel like a textbook as I was reading. The title is a little misleading maybe, but the topics it does cover are far more interesting than just food in my opinion.
Ben
Way interesting, tho not quite what I expected. Lots of big words lol. Learned a lot about the brain.
Travis Hutchins


This book is more about how the brain functions with certain intake chemicals. Title is misleading, but it is a wealth of information if you want to look at a chemical basis level. It would be boring to those who have no interest in brain function, science, anatomy, or psychology. Otherwise it is okay.
Lindsay
It took til the last ten pages to get to anything about food. I was overwhelmed with the neuroscience and at the same time felt like I was back in high school health class reading about drugs and their effects. Glad I only paid two bucks for it...
Jen
I think the title of this book is misleading. It talks about a lot of things that we put into our bodies that effect our brains . . . but not really about actual foods . . . more chemicals. A bit too scientific for the reader like me.
Sharon
I worked in the same department as Dr. Wenk when he was at Hopkins. He is a good researcher and the book enlightening but may be a bit off putting for those intimidated by neuroscience terms. Nevertheless you should try it.
Elmira
Both informative and entertaining. My only complaint is that the title is slightly misleading. It is less about food per se and more about drugs (both recreational and prescription) than the title led me to expect.
Sharon
Wenk shows concisely how various foods and drugs affect neurons. They act as either agonists or antagonists. The degree of solubility in lipids or water determines how quickly the chemical interacts with brain cells.
Justin
Very dry and scientific, but also full of information. Not a light read by any means. But very short and informative, too. Sort of encyclopedic, with weird bursts of humor that don't fit.
Ming Siu
Lots of interesting facts, but also loads of info about neurotransmitters and the like. I knew all those bio classes would pay off somehow! At least I could somewhat follow it. :p
Stephanie
dull. also, too complex for beginners to neuroscience, yet not complex enough for those who have a background in neuroscience. I found he jumped around topics too much.
Sarah
Very informative, but too textbooky and it wasn't really about food. It covered coffee and chocolate - but the rest was about how drugs affect your brain.
Marilynn
Much more interesting than I thought it would be. Very readable though a little background in the working of neurons and neurotransmitters is helpful.
Destinee Sutton
I'm about halfway through this and so far it's boring and there isn't much about food (the subtitle should be the title). Not compelled to finish.
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