Celebrating the Female Contribution to Neuroscience
March sees us celebrating International Women’s Day, the perfect opportunity to recognise, and most importantly thank, one of the best Neuroscientists of our time, Marian Diamond.
She was a professor at the University of California, and was known on campus as “the woman with the hat box”. It was decorated on the outside with a very feminine floral print, but on the inside it contained a mayonnaise jar containing four thin slices of Einstein’s brain!! That’s one cool handbag, don’t you think?!
Dr. Diamond made her name in the 1960’s when she had a breakthrough after studying the brains of rats. Rats that were raised alone, in cramped and isolated cages struggled with the navigation of a maze compared to those rats who were raised with toys and rat buddies.
She went on to develop a rich theory of brain plasticity (the brain is more play-doh than porcelain, so it can be remodelled if we choose) and outlined five things we need to develop our brains, no matter our age or background:
In our hypnotherapy clinics, our Inspired to Change Associates talk to our clients about the importance of Positive Action, Positive Interaction and Positive Thought, which we have all learnt from this remarkable woman.
The last factor on the list, ‘love’, is a little ‘soft and fluffy’ for a neuroscientist back in the 1960s, but she found that by holding the rats in her lab coat and stroking them each day she increased their life span. We talk to our clients about the beauty of oxytocin (our “love hormone”), and perhaps this was what the rats were feeling about their new friend!
And finally, in celebration of this important day for women, Dr. Diamond was famous for standing up for her rights after experiencing gender discrimination. She performed the bulk of the research but worked with male colleagues who were credited with contributions they didn’t make, whereas her name was listed last….and in brackets as though it were incidental! She confronted her male colleagues and told them, “Treat it like any other name”.
Ultimately, her name appeared first….now that’s girl power eh!
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