Worker Bee: Judith Hortsman’s The Scientific American Day in the Life of Your Brain



The Scientific American Day in the Life of Your Brain is a Scientific American Mind book and it reads that way for familiar with the magazine by the same name. It is a timeline sort of book of the brain’s activities. Examples include what part of the brain controls the appetite, what makes you want to sleep, why is the middle of the afternoon a sleeper, how aging, disease, and defects affect the brain, predispositions, and the like. Every hour of the day is discussed in detail. Some of activities are tied to bodily processes,the body clock, and genes. Others are tied to historical and evolutionary paths while still others are the result of scientific advancement and anecdotal evidence.

There is a fair amount of anatomical names and descriptions used. To help, in the center of the book are excellent diagrams and verbiage as well as a glossary of terms in the back for those who are not up on their biology.

As it was published in 2009,it is certainly dated to some degree. However, to this reader, who has a fascination with the workings of the brain, a lot of the information still appears to be relevant. In the back is a listing of related articles published in past issues of The Scientific American. There is no other reference list, odd given Scientific American’s penchant for citing to other sources in their articles in the magazine.

A few of the findings and the basis for those findings are controversial, such as whether sexual orientation or the propensity to commit violent crimes is the result of nature versus nature. Evolution plays a role as well as does animal testing, specifically on laboratory rats.

It is not a long book. The chapters are not long or too detailed. It is not a medical treatise nor is intended to be. The writing is excellent, easy to understand for the most part, though at times I found myself re-reading certain passages, particularly if there was medical or anatomical terminology used.