Patricia Goldman-Rakic

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Patricia Goldman-Rakic
Maria Goldman-Rakic - 10.1371 journal.pbio.0000038.g001-O.jpg
Born April 22, 1937
Salem, Massachusetts, USA
Died July 31, 2003
Hamden, Connecticut, USA
Nationality USA
Fields neurobiology
Institutions Yale University
Alma mater Vassar, UCLA
Doctoral advisor Wendell Jeffrey
Notable awards National Academy of Sciences; Karl Lashley Award; Fyssen Prize; Ralph Gerard Prize.

Patricia Goldman-Rakic (pronounced ra-KEESH; born Patricia Shoer; April 22, 1937 – July 31, 2003) was an American neuroscientist/neurobiologist known for her pioneering study of the frontal lobe and her work on the cellular basis of working memory.[1]



Born in Salem, Massachusetts, Goldman-Rakic earned her bachelor's degree in neurobiology from Vassar in 1959, and her doctorate from the University of California at Los Angeles in Developmental Psychology in 1963.[2][3]


Goldman-Rakic had two sisters—her twin Ruth Rappaport and younger sister Linda Shoer—both of whom earned PhD’s in science. Goldman-Rakic was married to Pasko Rakic, also a neuroscientist; they had no children. Before they were married, Goldman-Rakic and Rakic maintained a long distance relationship between 1974 and 1977. They were married in 1977.[2]


After postdoctoral positions at UCLA and New York University, she worked at the National Institute of Mental Health in neuropsychology and ultimately as chief of developmental neurobiology.[2] She moved to Yale School of Medicine in 1979 where she remained until her death. She was The Eugene Higgins Professor of Neuroscience in the neurobiology department with joint appointments in the departments of psychiatry, neurology, and psychology.[4]


On July 29, 2003, Goldman-Rakic was struck by a car while crossing a street in Hamden, Connecticut. She died two days later, on July 31 at Yale-New Haven Hospital. Goldman-Rakic was 66 years old.[4] She is buried in Grove Street Cemetery.[5]

Contributions to science[edit]

Goldman-Rakic was the first to discover and describe the circuitry of the prefrontal cortex and its relationship to working memory. Before Goldman-Rakic, scientists thought that the higher cognitive functions of the prefrontal cortex were beyond the scope of scientific study. Goldman-Rakic's research showed that methods employed to study the sensory cortices could be adapted to the highest order prefrontal cortical areas, revealing the circuit basis for higher cognitive function.[6] Because of Goldman-Rakic, scientists began to better understand the neurobiological basis of higher cognitive function, and of such disorders as schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), cerebral palsy, Parkinson's disease, and dementia. She used a multidisciplinary approach, applying biochemical, electrophysiological, pharmacological, anatomical and behavioral techniques to study working memory.[5] She pioneered the first studies of dopamine influences on prefrontal cortical function, research that is critical to our understanding of schizophrenia, ADHD and Parkinson's disease. A review of her life's work, including her special role mentoring women scientists, can be found in the journal Neuron.[7] Goldman-Rakic is also the founder of the Cerebral Cortex Journal, a specialized publication by Oxford Press.


Goldman-Rakic received the following honors:[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Renowned neuroscientist Patricia Goldman-Rakic dies". Yale Bulletin and Calendar 32 (1). August 29, 2003. Retrieved 12 November 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c "Patricia Goldman-Rakic." Newsmakers, Issue 4. Gale Group, 2002. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Thomson Gale. 2007.
  3. ^ J. M. Fuster, Patricia Goldman-Rakic 1937-2003, Nature Neuroscience 6, 1015 (2003) doi:10.1038/nn1003-1015
  4. ^ a b Dawson, M (2003). "Patricia Goldman-Rakic dies: Sudden death of multidisciplinary trailblazer in frontal lobe studies shocks the world of neuroscience". 
  5. ^ a b c "In Memoriam: Patricia Goldman-Rakic, Preeminent Yale Neuroscientist who Made Groundbreaking Discoveries in Working Memory and Explored the Brain's Frontal Lobe". Yale News. August 1, 2003. Retrieved 12 November 2013. 
  6. ^ Goldman-Rakic PS (1995). "Cellular basis of working memory". Neuron 14: 447–485. doi:10.1016/0896-6273(95)90304-6. PMID 7695894. 
  7. ^ Arnsten Af (2003). "Patricia Goldman-Rakic: A Remembrance". Neuron 40: 465–70. doi:10.1016/s0896-6273(03)00685-8. 

External links[edit]