Pi­o­neer­ing re­searcher on the brain’s ‘plas­tic­ity’ has died

The Western Star - - Obituaries -

Mar­ian Di­a­mond, a neu­ro­sci­en­tist who stud­ied Al­bert Ein­stein’s brain and was the first to show that the brain’s anatomy can change with ex­pe­ri­ence, has died. She was 90

Di­a­mond, a pro­fes­sor of in­te­gra­tive bi­ol­ogy at the Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Berke­ley, died July 25 in Oak­land, the univer­sity said Fri­day.

Di­a­mond be­came fa­mous in 1984 when she ex­am­ined pre­served slices of Ein­stein’s brain and found it had more sup­port cells than the av­er­age per­son’s brain.

Her ground­break­ing re­search on rats found that the brain can im­prove with en­rich­ment, while im­pov­er­ished en­vi­ron­ments can lower the ca­pac­ity to learn.

“Her re­search demon­strated the im­pact of en­rich­ment on brain de­vel­op­ment - a sim­ple but pow­er­ful new un­der­stand­ing that has lit­er­ally changed the world, from how we think about our­selves to how we raise our chil­dren,” said Ge­orge Brooks, a pro­fes­sor of in­te­gra­tive bi­ol­ogy and her col­league at UC Berke­ley.

“Dr. Di­a­mond showed anatom­i­cally, for the first time, what we now call plas­tic­ity of the brain. In do­ing so she shat­tered the old par­a­digm of un­der­stand­ing the brain as a static and un­change­able en­tity that sim­ply de­gen­er­ated as we age.”

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