Biomedical Sciences

The Heart of the Brain by Prof Gareth Leng

Prof Gareth Leng's (Centre for Discovery Brain Sciences) new book explores how the hypothalamus, although a small structure, influences our behaviour, our ability to love, and more....


As human beings, we prefer to think of ourselves as reasonable. But how much of what we do is really governed by reason? In this book, Gareth Leng considers the extent to which one small structure of the neuroendocrine brain—the hypothalamus—influences what we do, how we love, and who we are.

The hypothalamus contains a large variety of neurons. These communicate not only through neurotransmitters, but also through peptide signals that act as hormones within the brain. While neurotransmitter signals tend to be ephemeral and confined by anatomical connectivity, the hormone signals that hypothalamic neurons generate are potent, wide-reaching, and long-lasting. Leng explores the evolutionary origins of these remarkable neurons, and where the receptors for their hormone signals are found in the brain. By asking how the hypothalamic neurons and their receptors are regulated, he explores how the hypothalamus links our passions with our reason. The Heart of the Brain shows in an accessible way how this very small structure is very much at the heart of what makes us human."


As neuroendocrinology blossomed from a boutique field of neuroscience into the prime opportunity to relate molecular biology to hormones and behavior, Leng led by virtue of his productivity and his quantitative thinking. His book makes neuroscience accessible, as his writing blends charm and expertise. He presents complex ideas in a clear and interesting manner.

Donald Pfaff, Professor of Neurobiology and Behavior, The Rockefeller University; author of How the Vertebrate Brain Regulates Behavior

Further information

The Heart of the Brain: The Hypothalamus and Its Hormones

Professor Leng's profile page