Dr. Marian Diamond - "Use it or lose it"



I just had the pleasure of viewing the beautiful film by Catherine Ryan and Gary Weimberg, My Love Affair with the Brain – The Life & Science of Dr. Marian Diamond. This film highlights Dr. Diamond’s monumental 60-year neuroscience career at the University of California Berkeley. My mentor, Dr. Wendy Suzuki, was the MC of this event, and I know personally what an inspiration she was to Wendy. During Dr. Diamond’s career, she shattered many fixed scientific paradigms. When she started her career (as one of the few women in science at the time), the scientific consensus was that the brain was static – determined by the genetic code. By conducting simple, yet elegant experiments where she exposed rats to an enriched environment (the Disneyland of rat cages), she found that the cerebral cortex grew by an amazing 6%. Marian proved for the first time that the brain changes with experience. Marian found that many things change the brain, with the five biggest factors being “diet, exercise, challenge, newness, and love”. Dr. Diamond was the inspiration for the phrase, “use it or lose it”, a phrase that has become a colloquialism. She even had the opportunity to study Dr. Albert Einstein’s brain, finding that he had more glial cells per neuron than the average man. She brought about the idea that glia cells are active participants in brain function – yet another huge paradigm shift in science. Later in life, Marian applied her science, helping to enrich the lives of children through outreach programs around the world. She was an instrumental teacher and mentor in the lives of over 60,000 students and a true inspiration to science. Her lectures can be found on youtube.com and have almost 2 million views. You can find more information about this fabulous documentary and about the life of Dr. Marian Diamond here: http://lunaproductions.com/.

Julia C. Basso, PhD