Mind Power Issue #75
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Issue #75 – Monday, August 21, 2017
This is very special issue of Mind Power on an unexpected, and personal, topic. On Tuesday, July 25, 2017, brain scientist and plasticity pioneer, Dr. Marian Diamond, passed away at the age of 90.
Dr. Diamond’s work had a profound effect on my own research and understanding of how to change your brain…
...and therefore change your life, for the better, in ways previously unheard of.
I hope you’ll take a few minutes to read about her amazing research – and her equally amazing life – in the feature article below.
You will also pick up some vital insights into your own longevity and how to keep your brain vital and strong as you age.
Bill Harris, Founder/CEO
Dr. Marian Diamond (1926 - 2017)
Goodbye to an Amazing Woman,
Scientist & Inspiration
by Bill Harris
At the age of 15, she saw a human brain for the first time and wondered how a three-pound lump of grey matter could conjure thoughts and ideas, and to be, in her estimation…
…”the most magnificent structure on this earth.”
This moment led Dr. Marian Diamond to the gates of such esteemed halls as UC Berkeley, Harvard and Cornell Universities. And from there, to breakthrough research in the science of the brain…
...and its ability to change its structure over time.
Among her many achievements was to dispel the notion that mental capacity is fixed at birth and is doomed to diminish drastically with age.
Her research with laboratory rats demonstrated that an enriched environment changed the anatomy of the brain. The implication was that the brains of all animals, including humans….
...benefit from an enriched environment, and that impoverished environments can lower the capacity to learn.
This is the woman who held pieces of Albert Einstein's brain in her hands, and put those same pieces under a microscope and the laser-sharp focus of her mind.
Diamond’s first evidence (which she later proved in laboratory rats) that the brain can change with experience and improve with enrichment…
...began with the brain of Albert Einstein.
In 2016, filmmakers Catherine Ryan and Gary Weimberg released an award-winning documentary of Marian’s life: My Love Affair with the Brain: The Life and Science of Dr. Marian Diamond.
“How can you not fall in love with a woman who carries around a preserved human brain inside a giant flowery hat box?” they ask.
“As one of the founders of modern neuroscience,” say the filmmakers, “it’s no exaggeration to say that…
...Dr. Diamond changed science, and society at large in dramatic ways over the course of her career.
(Photo courtesy of Luna Productions.)
“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.”
The giant leap that Dr. Diamond provided for our understanding of the brain, includes things you may be very surprised to hear about. She concluded that five factors...
...out of the millions of possibilities, were crucial to brain development at any age:
Yes, love. Dr. Diamond illustrated that laboratory rats, and by extrapolation, humans, who were petted and snuggled, had thicker cerebral cortices, and…
... performed better and lived longer...than those who were not given comfort and affection.
The same held true for rats who lived in “enriched environments” with toys and rat playmates. While critics were scoffing at Dr. Diamond’s experiments, she forged ahead undaunted…
...and eventually tipped the science of the brain on its head.
In My Love Affair with the Brain: The Life and Science of Dr. Marian Diamond, Dr. Diamond, taking a brain from the Tupperware container inside her hatbox, says:
“It’s a full human brain that you can hold in one hand. Nothing can compare with it. Those cells can produce ideas.
“This is who you really are. Take away the brain and you take away the person.”
Charming, witty and brilliant, Dr. Diamond’s YouTube videos have made her the one of the most popular college professors in the world.
“I’ve spent more than 60 years studying the brain...and it was pure joy.”
Her colleague at UC Berkeley, George Brooks, a professor of integrative biology, said:
“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.
“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.”
Diamond was not only a pioneer in neuroscience and anatomical and behavioral research. Hatbox in hand, she became an inspiration and mentor to generations of students.
Without Dr. Diamond’s courage and perseverance in a field dominated by scowling and skeptical men, my own discoveries in brain plasticity would have remained on the kitchen table…
...where I first conceived the idea for Holosync® and the technology that grew into all that Centerpointe is today. (And, by the way, Holosync® provides a wonderful “enriched environment” for the brain.)
Marian Diamond is a bright, shining example of all that can come from a simple idea. As she said “...start by asking the right questions.”
I’ve often said, in encouraging people toward awareness, to “observe with curiosity. Question everything.”
For example, you never know what you’ll find in a woman’s hatbox.
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This Really Happened
“I lost my partner of only 18 months in June. He just missed his 80th and I got there a couple of years ago. But the subtle thing which hit me to-day was the sadness I was holding onto.
“I had found some shots on his laptop which were taken only a few years ago, and there was one particular one in which he looked thoughtful, sad even, and I had chosen to print it out and have it on the desk because it matched what I felt.
“Your letter made me think about that. I went straight back to his computer and printed out another of him with his young granddaughter. There was an expression of love in his face, but also humour.
“I changed it over and immediately my mood changed. Of course he had different emotions, as we all do, and mine are pretty raw just now, but that change has helped me enormously to-day, and whenever I see his expression of love and fun, I realise how lucky I was to know him, even for such a short time.
“It was a complete example of what I had been doing, holding onto the sadness, and then watching myself let it go.
“Thank you Bill.”
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