Marian Diamond is one of the founders of modern neuroscience. Her pioneering research preceded the very term “neuroscience”.
It is no exaggeration to say that Dr. Diamond changed science and society at large in dramatic ways over the course of her career. Her groundbreaking work is all the more remarkable because it began during an era when so few women entered science at all. Shouted at from the back of the conference hall by noteworthy male academics as she presented her research, and disparaged in the scientific journals of a more conservative era, Dr. Diamond simply did the work and followed where her curiosity led her, bringing about a paradigm shift (or two) in the process. As she points out, in order to get to the answers that matter, you have to start by asking the right questions. And Dr. Diamond had an uncanny ability to find the right questions.
Enrichment and brain plasticity (how the brain changes due to experience and environment) are concepts we now take for granted, but they were a scientific battleground where Dr. Diamond decisively challenged the old view of the brain as fixed and unchangeable. She was the first to find actual evidence of plasticity in a brain, forever changing our understanding of the brain … and ourselves.
She was the first to publish a study of Albert Einstein’s brain – fueling yet another paradigm change, a renewed appreciation of glial cells, the 80% of the brain that, previously, was said ‘to do nothing.’
And her legacy continues to grow. The number of views of her YouTube Anatomy lectures has doubled in the last 6 months, now totaling 4.6 million!
Although Dr. Diamond passed away in July of this year, her desire to bring ever more understanding of the brain to us all seems to be happening!