Skip to main content
Sculptor and Destroyer: Tales of Glutamatethe Brain's Most Important Neurotransmitter

Sculptor and Destroyer: Tales of Glutamatethe Brain's Most Important Neurotransmitter

Current price: $35.00
Publication Date: August 22nd, 2023
The MIT Press
Usually Ships in 1 to 5 Days


The fascinating story of glutamate, the neurotransmitter that controls the structure and function of the brain in health and neurological disorders.

Sculptor and Destroyer tells the story of a simple, little-known molecule that became a master architect and commander of the human brain: glutamate. Upward of 90 percent of the neurons in the human brain deploy glutamate as their neurotransmitter. Other neurotransmitters can only exert their effects on brain function by subtly modifying the ongoing activity of glutamatergic neurons, but during brain development glutamate controls the growth of dendrites and the formation of synapses. In this eye-opening book, Mark Mattson explains how the neurotransmitter glutamate controls the structure and function of neuronal networks in the brain, thereby mediating the brain’s capabilities, including learning and memory, creativity, and imagination.

Mattson also delves deeply into the dark side of glutamate, which he calls the “destroyer” side. He shows how relatively subtle aberrancies in the activity of neurons that deploy glutamate may result in behavioral disorders ranging from autism and schizophrenia to chronic anxiety and depression. More dramatically, he describes how glutamate can excite neurons to death, a process that occurs in epilepsy and stroke and, perhaps even more insidiously, in Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, ALS, and Huntington’s disease. Sculptor and Destroyer concludes with a perspective on how knowledge of glutamate’s roles in neuroplasticity might be applied to the optimization of brain health throughout our lives.

Written in engaging, approachable prose, Sculptor and Destroyer will be of interest to anyone in the fields of neuroscience, neurology, psychiatry, and psychology, as well as to anyone with a curiosity about the human brain.

About the Author

 Mark P. Mattson is currently Adjunct Professor of Neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University and was previously Chief of the Laboratory of Neurosciences at the National Institute on Aging in Baltimore. He is among the most highly cited neuroscientists in the world with more than 900 publications and 200,000 citations, is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and has received many awards including the Metropolitan Life Foundation Medical Research Award and the Alzheimer’s Association Zenith Fellows Award. He is the author of The Intermittent Fasting Revolution: The Science of Optimizing Health and Enhancing Performance (MIT Press).