Marian Diamond (1926-2017) was an American neuroscientist. Her work changed scientific understanding of the brain from being a static organ that generated with age to one that could be affected by experiences. As she so well put it: “Use it or lose it.”
In examining four chunks of Einstein’s brain, which she said looked like “sugar lumps” sent to her in a mayonnaise jar in 1984, she discovered that it had an average-above number of “glial cells” in the areas thought to control maths and linguistic skills.
Later, in the 1990s, a researcher at Stanford was able to make sense of Professor Diamond’s findings by establishing a connection between glial cells and the role they play in neutron-building and brain development.
I am not a scientist – though a guilty pleasure is popular science, and Stephen Hawking a particular hero (one day I might understand a fraction of what he writes). But in reading about Ms Diamond I hope I’ve done exactly what she promoted – use it, or lose it, indeed.