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Hardcover | Out of Print | 286 pp. | 6.3 x 9.1 in | May 2000 | ISBN: 9780262071987
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The Hot Brain

Survival, Temperature, and the Human Body


From the first unicellular life on Earth, living things have had the capacity to sense heat and cold and to avoid extreme temperatures. With the development of a bigger brain and a constant body temperature, mammals were able to change their habitats. The interplay between behavior, body temperature, and ambient temperature may have played a crucial role in human evolution. In this book Carl Gisolfi and Francisco Mora tell the evolutionary story of the brain and thermoregulation, with an emphasis on modern humans.

The book first traces the story of the brain throughout evolution and shows how the control of body temperature as a survival mechanism was achieved. It then goes on to discuss the mechanisms of our environmental independence, why a body temperature of 37° C (only five degrees from death) is essential for humans and how this narrow temperature range is defended. It describes how we cope with environmental extremes, the function of fevers, and why thermoregulation is best understood through a combination of physiological and cognitive approaches. It also addresses such questions as "Can we cool the brain?" and "Is the elevation in brain temperature (a hot brain) the reason we stop exercising?"


“This book represents a significant contribution to the field, as the authors have crossed the lines between zoology, anthropology, physiology, psychology, and the study of evolution, to create a story about one of the fundamental requirements for sustaining life—a constant body temperature.”
Steven M. Frank, M.D., Associate Professor, Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
“"An excellent book written by world-renowned authors who have taken an interesting approach to thermoregulation. The background review at each level is comprehensive, and the interpretation of data is informative."”
Gordon G. Giesbrecht, Professor, Laboratory for Exercise and Environmental Medicine, University of Manitoba