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See Inside Scientific American Mind Volume 25, Issue 5

On Our Shelf: High Price

Books and recommendations from Scientific American MIND
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High Price: A Neuroscientist's Journey of Self-Discovery That Challenges Everything You Know about Drugs and Society
by Carl Hart
HarperCollins, 2013

In an absorbing memoir, Hart describes his improbable journey from a childhood of poverty and violence in Miami to Columbia University, where he became the school's first African-American science professor to earn tenure. Combining his experience in the 'hood with his training in neuroscience, Hart realized that drugs are far less responsible for humanity's ills than we have all been led to believe.

Cerebrum 2013: Emerging Ideas in Brain Science
edited by Bill Glovin. Dana Press, 2014

Every year the Dana Foundation, a charitable organization that supports brain research, assembles an anthology from its online journal Cerebrum to highlight accomplishments in brain science as well as ongoing mysteries. In the latest compendium, experts reveal how a high-fat diet could help treat epilepsy and how the antics of a small, speckled freshwater fish launched the study of risky behavior. I've enjoyed each article in the collection so far; the science is accessible without sparing the details that make for fascinating stories. —Daisy Yuhas, associate editor

The Humor Code: A Global Search for What Makes Things Funny
by Peter McGraw and Joel Warner. Simon & Schuster, 2014

This engaging read follows psychologist McGraw and journalist Warner as they travel the globe to uncover why we laugh. We see McGraw fail miserably at stand-up in Colorado, examine the ingredients that make a New Yorker cartoon funny and travel to Tanzania to explore the 1962 laughter epidemic, in which a laugh spread across an entire community. As the book's forays into science and culture illustrate, the nature of laughter is far more complex than most of us realize. —Victoria Stern, contributing editor

Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth about Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar—Your Brain's Silent Killers
by David Perlmutter. Little, Brown, 2013

With evidence mounting that grains cause a host of health problems, I was eager to find out what current research says about a high-carbohydrate diet's effect on the brain. Unfortunately, physician Perlmutter drastically overstates his claims. Some studies indeed hint that grains might worsen or even cause ailments such as Alzheimer's disease, but much more work is needed before any conclusions can be drawn as definitively as they are in Grain Brain.
—Karen Schrock Simring, contributing editor

This article was originally published with the title "On Our Shelf."

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