Marian Diamond (1926-2017)
Glendale, California, USA
Digital Illustration, 24" x 32", 2022
Dr. Marian Diamond was better known as the professor who carried a brain in a hat box to teach classes at the University of California, Berkeley. Many also knew her as the leading scientist who discovered neuroplasticity of the brain, the idea that our cerebral cortex can alter depending on how we enrich or impoverish it throughout our entire life. Neuroplasticity was the birth of modern neuroscience. She dubbed the term “Use it or lose it,” to mean if you don’t challenge your thinking cortex you may lose the abilities you have.
Trauma, sleep deprivation, poor eating habits, and stress can affect the brain for the worse. Whereas, healthy diet, exercise, positive challenges, newness, and most importantly love, can improve brain function. Many of her colleagues doubted her scientific abilities as she was a woman and a mother of four children, but she stood strong and made sure her voice was heard. After two decades of fighting, her work was accepted into the scientific community. During her career, she examined a sliver of Albert Einstein’s brain, finding that he had more Glial cells than a normal rat brain. Glial cells provide support for the body’s neurons.
In 1965, UC Berkeley invited Diamond to be an assistant professor for their Integrative Biology course. Students filled her lectures claiming that she was one of the most inspiring professors. She remained a professor there until her death in 2017.