Marian Diamond

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Marian Diamond
Marian Cleeves

(1926-11-11)November 11, 1926
DiedJuly 25, 2017(2017-07-25) (aged 90)
Alma mater
  • Richard Martin Diamond (1950–1979 div.)
  • Arnold Bernard Scheibel (1982–2017, his death)
  • Catherine Theresa Diamond (1953)
  • Richard Cleeves Diamond (1955)
  • Jeff Barja Diamond (1958)
  • Ann Diamond (1962)
AwardsThe Distinguished Senior Woman Scholar in America awarded by the American Association of University Women
Scientific career
FieldsNeuroanatomy, Anatomy, Education
InstitutionsUniversity of California, Berkeley
ThesisFunctional Interrelationships of the Hypothalamus and the Neurohypophysis (1953)

Marian Diamond (born Cleeves; November 11, 1926 – July 25, 2017) was a pioneering scientist and educator who is considered one of the founders of modern neuroscience. She and her team were the first to publish evidence that the brain can change with experience and improve with enrichment, what is now called neuroplasticity.[2] Her research on the brain of Albert Einstein helped fuel the ongoing scientific revolution in understanding the roles of glial cells in the brain.[3] Her YouTube Integrative Biology lectures were the second most popular college course in the world in 2010.[4] She was a professor of anatomy at the University of California, Berkeley. Other published research explored differences between the cerebral cortex of male and female rats, the link between positive thinking and immune health, and the role of women in science.


Early life[edit]

Marian Cleeves was born in Glendale, California to Dr. Montague Cleeves and Rosa Marian Wamphler Cleeves as the sixth and last child in the family. Her father was an English physician and her mother a Latin teacher at Berkeley High School. Diamond grew up in La Crescenta. She was educated with her siblings near home at La Crescenta grammar school, Clark Junior High, Glendale High School and finally Glendale Community College, before going to University of California, Berkeley. She played tennis at Berkeley, earning a letter.[5][6]


After graduating with a bachelor's degree in 1948, Diamond spent a summer at the University of Oslo, Norway before returning to Berkeley for her graduate studies, the first female graduate student in the department of anatomy.[6] Her doctoral dissertation thesis "Functional Interrelationships of the Hypothalamus and the Neurohypophysis" was published in 1953.[7]

While studying for her PhD degree, Diamond also began to teach, a passion that continued well into her eighties. Marian Diamond received her PhD degree in human anatomy.[6] After working as a research assistant at Harvard University between 1952–53, Diamond became the first woman science instructor at Cornell University from 1955–58 where she taught human biology and comparative anatomy. Diamond returned to the University of California, Berkeley in 1960 in the role of lecturer. In the role as neuroanatomist, Diamond joined an ongoing research project with psychologists David Krech, Mark Rosenzweig, and chemist Edward Bennett, as a .[5][8]

By 1964, Diamond had the first evidence, from anatomical measurements, of plasticity in the mammalian cerebral cortex. These results "opened the doors for our experiments to follow for the next 37 years."[9][10][5]

UC Berkeley invited Diamond to be an Assistant Professor in 1965, progressing later to be a full professor, and finally, Professor Emeritus until her death in 2017. In 1984, Diamond and her associates had access to sufficient tissue from Einstein's brain to make the first ever analysis of it, followed by publication of their research. The 1985 paper "On the Brain of a Scientist: Albert Einstein" created some controversy in academia over the role of glial cells. However, it also ushered in new interest in neuroglia.[11][12][13]

Personal life[edit]

Diamond married Richard Martin Diamond in 1950 and they had four children: Catherine Theresa (1953), Richard Cleeves (1955), Jeff Barja (1958), and Ann (1962). They divorced in 1979 after which Diamond married Professor Arnold Bernard Scheibel in 1982.[5]

Documentary film[edit]

My Love Affair with the Brain: The Life and Science of Dr. Marian Diamond is a 2017 documentary about Diamond's life as a pioneering woman of science, her curiosity and passion for the human brain, as well as her research and love of teaching.[14] Produced and directed by Catherine Ryan and Gary Weimberg of Luna Productions, it was broadcast on PBS, was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Science and Technology Documentary (2018, National News and Documentary Emmy Awards),[15] won the PRIX ADAV for Best Educational film of the year at the Pariscience Festival International du Film Scientifque,[16] won the Kavli-AAAS Science Journalism Gold Award for best in-depth science documentary of 2017,[17] was included among Science Books & Film year-end list of Best Science Films OF 2017,[18] and won numerous awards at various festivals, including the Audience Award Best in Fest-RiverRun International Film Festival 2016,[19] the Best Feature Film-American Psychological Association Film Festival 2016,[20] the Best Documentary – Indigo Moon film festival,[18] the Best Documentary – High Falls Film Festival, NY,[18] the Best Documentary, Audience Award, Durango Film Festival,[18] and the Audience Favorite Award – Mill Valley Film Festival, CA.[18]

Contributions to neuroscience, neuroanatomy, neuroplasticity[edit]

Neuroplasticity: Diamond was a pioneer in anatomical neuroscience whose major scientific contributions have changed forever how we view the human brain. Diamond produced the first scientific evidence of anatomical neuroplasticity in the early 1960s. At that time, the scientific consensus was that the nature of your brain was due to genetics and was unchangeable and fixed. Diamond showed that the structural components of the cerebral cortex can be altered by either enriched or impoverished environments at any age, from prenatal to extremely old age. Her initial anatomical experiment, and replication experiments, with young rats showed that the cerebral cortex of the enriched rats was 6% thicker than the cortex of the impoverished rats based on different kinds of early life experiences. An enriched cortex shows greater learning capacity while an impoverished one shows lesser learning capacity. These paradigm-changing results, published in 1964, helped to launch modern neuroscience.[5][9][21]

Einstein's Brain: In early 1984, Diamond received four blocks of the preserved brain of Albert Einstein from Thomas Stoltz Harvey. Harvey, pathologist of Princeton Hospital at the time of Einstein's death, had removed Einstein's brain during autopsy in 1955 and maintained personal possession of the brain. The fact that the Einstein brain tissue was already embedded in celloidin when the Diamond lab received it meant that their choice of methods of examination would be somewhat limited. However, they were able to successfully analyze both the superior prefrontal (area 9) and inferior parietal (area 39) association cortices of the left and right hemispheres of Einstein's brain and compare results with the identical regions in the control base of 11 human, male, preserved brains. From previous analysis of the eleven control brains, the Diamond lab "learned the frontal cortex did have more glial cells/neuron than the parietal cortex."[22] After many years of research, Diamond and her team had data proving that, in the rat brain, glial cells increased with enriched conditions, but did not increase with age.[23] Diamond and her associates discovered that the big difference in all four areas was in nonneuronal cells. Einstein had more glial cells per neuron than the average male brains of the control group. Importantly, the biggest difference was found in area 39 of the left hemisphere of Einstein's brain where the increase in the number of glial cells per neuron was statistically significantly greater than in the control brains. Astrocyte and oligodendrocyte glial cells were pooled for these results.[13]

Diamond demonstrated that the structural arrangement of the male and female cortices is significantly different and can be altered in the absence of sex steroid hormones.[5]

Diamond also showed that the dorsal lateral frontal cerebral cortex is bilaterally deficient in the immune deficient mouse and can be reversed with thymic transplants. In humans, cognitive stimulation increases circulating CD4-positive T lymphocytes, supporting the idea that immunity can be voluntarily modulated, in other words, that positive thinking can impact the immune system.[5]

Selected publications[edit]

Mohammed, A. H., Zhu, S. W., Darmopil, S., Hjerling-Leffler, J., Ernfors, P., Winblad, B., ... & Bogdanovic, N. (2002). Environmental enrichment and the brain. In Progress in brain research (Vol. 138, pp. 109–133). Elsevier.[24]

Diamond, M. C. (2001). Response of the brain to enrichment. Anais da Academia Brasileira de Ciências, 73(2), 211–220.[25]

Diamond, M. C. (1994). Hearts, Brains, and Education: A New Alliance for Science Curriculum. Higher Learning in America, 1980-2000, 273.[26]

Diamond, M. C. (1990). An optimistic view of the aging brain. In Biomedical advances in aging (pp. 441–449). Springer, Boston, MA.[27]

Diamond, M. C. (1988). Enriching heredity: The impact of the environment on the anatomy of the brain. Free Press.[28]

Diamond, M. C., Scheibel, A. B., Murphy Jr, G. M., & Harvey, T. (1985). On the brain of a scientist: Albert Einstein. Experimental neurology, 88(1), 198–204.[29]

Globus, A., Rosenzweig, M. R., Bennett, E. L., & Diamond, M. C. (1973). Effects of differential experience on dendritic spine counts in rat cerebral cortex. Journal of comparative and physiological psychology, 82(2), 175.[30]

Diamond, M. C., Law, F., Rhodes, H., Lindner, B., Rosenzweig, M. R., Krech, D., & Bennett, E. L. (1966). Increases in cortical depth and glia numbers in rats subjected to enriched environment. Journal of Comparative Neurology, 128(1), 117–125.[31]

Diamond, M. C., Krech, D., & Rosenzweig, M. R. (1964). The effects of an enriched environment on the histology of the rat cerebral cortex. Journal of Comparative Neurology, 123(1), 111–119.[32]

Bennett, E. L., Diamond, M. C., Krech, D., & Rosenzweig, M. R. (1964). Chemical and anatomical plasticity of brain. Science, 146(3644), 610–619.[33]

Diamond, M. C. (1963). Women in modern science. Journal of the American Medical Women's Association, 18, 891–896.[34]

Rosenzweig, M. R., Krech, D., Bennett, E. L., & Diamond, M. C. (1962). Effects of environmental complexity and training on brain chemistry and anatomy: a replication and extension. Journal of comparative and physiological psychology, 55(4), 429.[35]


  • Council for Advancement & Support of Education. Wash. D.C. award for California Professor of the Year and National Gold Medalist
  • California Biomedical Research Association Distinguished Service Award
  • Alumna of the Year—California Alumni Association
  • San Francisco Chronicle Hall of Fame
  • University Medal, La Universidad del Zulia, Maracaibo, Venezuela
  • Brazilian Gold Medal of Honor
  • Benjamin Ide Wheeler Service Award[36]
  • The Distinguished Senior Woman Scholar in America awarded by the American Association of University Women, 1997.[5]
  • Clark Kerr Award for Distinguished Leadership in Higher Education 2012[37]
  • International House Alumni Faculty Award, 2016[38]
  • Paola S. Timiras Memorial Award for Aging Research from the Center for Research and Education in Aging (CREA)2016[39]
  • Distinguished Teaching Award 1975 awarded by the University of California Berkeley[40]


  1. ^ Diamond, Marian Cleeves (1996). "Marian Cleeves Diamond". In Squire, Larry Ryan (ed.). The History of Neuroscience in Autobiography. Vol. 6. Society for Neuroscience. pp. 62–94. ISBN 978-0-12-660301-9. Retrieved 2014-09-24. Autobiography.
  2. ^ Smith, Harrison (30 July 2017). "Marian Diamond, neuroscientist who gave new meaning to 'use it or lose it,' dies at 90". Retrieved 21 October 2018 – via
  3. ^ Grimes, William (16 August 2017). "Marian C. Diamond, 90, Student of the Brain, Is Dead". The New York Times.
  4. ^ "Top Ten most Popular College Course Lectures On YouTube". The New York Times. 16 April 2010.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h Squire, Larry R. (1 March 2009). The History of Neuroscience in Autobiography Volume 6. Oxford University Press. p. 64. ISBN 9780195380101.
  6. ^ a b c Holtz, Debra Levi (December 5, 2010). "Marian Diamond - anatomy professor a YouTube hit". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved May 13, 2014.
  7. ^ Diamond, Marian Cleeves (1953). "Functional interrelationships of the hypothalamus and the neurohypophysis". University of California, Berkeley. OCLC 14462278. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  8. ^ Diamond, Marian Cleeves, (1998). Magic Trees of the Mind: How to Nurture Your Child's Intelligence, Creativity, and Healthy Emotions from Birth Through Adolescence. New York: Plume, Penguin Group. pp. 12-16. ISBN 0-452-27830-9 (pbk)
  9. ^ a b Diamond, Marian C.; Krech, David; Rosenzweig, Mark R. (1964). "The effects of an enriched environment on the histology of the rat cerebral cortex". The Journal of Comparative Neurology. 123: 111–119. doi:10.1002/cne.901230110. PMID 14199261. S2CID 30997263.
  10. ^ Bennett EL, Diamond MC, Krech D, Rosenzweig MR,“Chemical and Anatomical Plasticity of the Brain”, “Science 1964:146:610-619”; retrieved February 9, 2017
  11. ^ Fields, R. Douglas (2009). The Other Brain: From Dementia to Schizophrenia. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-0-7432-9141-5
  12. ^ Hamilton, Jon,"Einstein's Brain Unlocks some Mysteries of the Mind","NPR June 2010"; retrieved February 18, 2017
  13. ^ a b Diamond MC, Scheibel AB, Murphy GM Jr, Harvey T,"On the Brain of a Scientist: Albert Einstein","Experimental Neurology 1985;198-204"; retrieved February 18, 2017
  14. ^ Robert Sanders, "Brain scientist Marian Diamond subject of new documentary" Retrieved August 20, 2016
  15. ^,
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  19. ^ "RiverRun's 2016 Winners & Awards". Archived from the original on 2016-04-22.
  20. ^ "Film and Other Media Programs". Archived from the original on 2012-07-26.
  21. ^ Bennett EL, Diamond MC, Krech D, Rosenzweig MR, "Chemical and Anatomical Plasticity of the Brain", "Science 1964:146:610-619", February 6, 2017
  22. ^ Diamond MC,"Why Einstein's Brain?"Retrieved February 18, 2017 Archived February 19, 2017, at the Wayback Machine
  23. ^ Diamond, Marian Cleeves (1988). Enriching Heredity: The Impact of the Environment on the Anatomy of the Brain.New York:The Free Press, A Division of Macmillan, Inc. p.48-49. ISBN 0-02-907431-2
  24. ^ Mohammed, A.H.; Zhu, S.W.; Darmopil, S.; Hjerling-Leffler, J.; Ernfors, P.; Winblad, B.; Diamond, M.C.; Eriksson, P.S.; Bogdanovic, N. (2002), Environmental enrichment and the brain, Progress in Brain Research, vol. 138, Elsevier, pp. 109–133, doi:10.1016/s0079-6123(02)38074-9, hdl:10616/40007, ISBN 9780444509819, PMID 12432766
  25. ^ Diamond, Marian C. (2001-06-01). "Response of the brain to enrichment". Anais da Academia Brasileira de Ciências. 73 (2): 211–220. doi:10.1590/S0001-37652001000200006. ISSN 0001-3765. PMID 11404783.
  26. ^ Levine, Arthur (1994). Higher Learning in America, 1980-2000. JHU Press. ISBN 9780801848612.
  27. ^ Diamond, Marian C. (1990), "An Optimistic View of the Aging Brain", Biomedical Advances in Aging, Springer US, pp. 441–449, doi:10.1007/978-1-4613-0513-2_43, ISBN 9781461278443
  28. ^ "APA Psych Net".[dead link]
  29. ^ Diamond, Marian C.; Scheibel, Arnold B.; Murphy Jr., Greer M.; Harvey, Thomas (1985-04-04). "On the brain of a scientist: Albert Einstein". Experimental Neurology. 88 (1): 198–204. doi:10.1016/0014-4886(85)90123-2. ISSN 0014-4886. PMID 3979509. S2CID 40430181.
  30. ^ Globus, Albert; Rosenzweig, Mark R.; Bennett, Edward L.; Diamond, Marian C. (1973). "Effects of differential experience on dendritic spine counts in rat cerebral cortex". Journal of Comparative and Physiological Psychology. 82 (2): 175–181. doi:10.1037/h0033910. ISSN 0021-9940. PMID 4571892.
  31. ^ Diamond, Marian C.; Law, Fay; Rhodes, Helen; Lindner, Bernice; Rosenzweig, Mark R.; Krech, David; Bennett, Edward L. (1966-09-15). "Increases in cortical depth and glia numbers in rats subjected to enriched environment". The Journal of Comparative Neurology. 128 (1): 117–125. doi:10.1002/cne.901280110. ISSN 0021-9967. PMID 4165855. S2CID 32351844.
  32. ^ Diamond, Marian C.; Krech, David; Rosenzweig, Mark R. (1964-08-11). "The effects of an enriched environment on the histology of the rat cerebral cortex". The Journal of Comparative Neurology. 123 (1): 111–119. doi:10.1002/cne.901230110. ISSN 0021-9967. PMID 14199261. S2CID 30997263.
  33. ^ Bennett, Edward L.; Diamond, Marian C.; Krech, David; Rosenzweig, Mark R. (1964). "Chemical and Anatomical Plasticity of Brain". Science. 146 (3644): 610–619. Bibcode:1964Sci...146..610B. doi:10.1126/science.146.3644.610. JSTOR 1714515. PMID 14191699.
  34. ^ Diamond, M. C. (1963-11-02). "Women in Modern Science". Journal of the American Medical Women's Association. 18: 891–896. ISSN 0091-7427. PMID 14086067.
  35. ^ Rosenzweig, Mark R.; Krech, David; Bennett, Edward L.; Diamond, Marian C. (1962). "Effects of environmental complexity and training on brain chemistry and anatomy: A replication and extension". Journal of Comparative and Physiological Psychology (Submitted manuscript). 55 (4): 429–437. doi:10.1037/h0041137. ISSN 0021-9940. PMID 14494091.
  36. ^ "Benjamin Ide Wheeler Medal". Berkeley Community Fund. Retrieved June 17, 2017.
  37. ^ "History of the Clark Kerr Award" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on August 19, 2016. Retrieved April 16, 2015.
  38. ^ "International House 2016 Gala". International House University of California Berkeley. Retrieved 16 August 2016.
  39. ^ "Award for and Discussion of Dr. Marian Diamond at BAMPFA". The Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute at UC Berkeley. 2016-02-25. Retrieved 16 August 2016.
  40. ^ CalHistory. "Distinguished Teaching Awards". Days of Cal Distinguished Teaching Award. Retrieved October 1, 2016.