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Patricia S. Goldman-Rakic

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Patricia Goldman-Rakic
225px
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.
Neuropsychology
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Patricia Goldman-Rakic (pronounced Template:Respell; 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]

Life Edit

Education Edit

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 mentored and nurtured many students and colleagues while at Vassar College and she considered her graduate students her "scientific children."  Interestingly enough Patricia and her husband Pasko never had children.  Co-major Karen Dahlberg VanderVen '59 remembers Patricia's lively intelligence in their senior psychology seminar and her generosity and grace in helping Karen design the recruitment and coding of subject for her complicated thesis [4]

Family Edit

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]

Career Edit

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.[5] She was The Eugene Higgins Professor of Neuroscience in the neurobiology department with joint appointments in the departments of psychiatry, neurology, and psychology [6] Goldman-Rakic was influenced greatly by her mentor Haldor Enger Rosvold.  Rosvold established the first laboratory at the National Institute of Mental Health for the study of higher cortical function and complex behavior.  In 1965 Goldman-Rakic joined the lab of Rosvold, one of the few scientists doing studies on the prefrontal cortex, which at the time was considered the most inaccessible region of the cerebral cortex [7] Clare Bergson, associate professor of pharmacology and toxicology at the Medical College of Georgia, was one of many postdoctoral students whom Goldman-Rakic supported.[6] Goldman-Rakic was known for saying, "My life is devoted to science."  CNN agreed, and in its celebration of the new millennium, it named her "America’s best neuroscientist" in 2001 [4] One of her main contributions to psychology was to the understanding the pathophysiology of schizophrenia, Parkinson's, and Alzheimer's disease.

Death Edit

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.[5] She is buried in Grove Street Cemetery.[8]

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.[9] Because of Goldman-Rakic, scientists began to better understand the neurobiological basis of higher cognitive function, and of such disorders as schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, A.D.H.D., cerebral palsy, Parkinson's, and dementia. She used a multidisciplinary approach, applying biochemical, electrophysiological, pharmacological, anatomical and behavioral techniques to study working memory.[8] She pioneered the first studies of dopamine influences on prefrontal cortical function, research that is critical to our understanding of schizophrenia, A.D.H.D. 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.[10] Goldman-Rakic is also the founder of the Cerebral Cortex Journal, a specialized publication by Oxford Press.

Goldman-Rakic is credited with having the first detailed structure and function of the brain's frontal lobe.  Amy Arnsten [7] describes Goldman-Rakic's first major discovery thus: "Pat injected tritiated amino acids into the sulcus principals and found stunning results: patches of input in striatum (the very first description of the patch/matrix organization of this structure) and columns of input in the contralateral P.F.C."  After this at the National Institute of Mental Health, Goldman-Rakic assembled a multidisciplinary team (in itself a pioneering move) and proceeded to map "the exquisite order and structure of this brain region [7] Goldman-Rakic broke down gender barriers in her field and made a name in a scientific world where women were not expected to succeed [4]  Goldman-Rakic became chief of a laboratory section at the National Institute of Health in a time when few women rose to senior levels.  Goldman-Rakic was an author and collaborator on hundreds of papers and she also won numbers honors and awards.  Among them: The Karl Lashley Award from the American Philosophical Society, the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award from the American Psychological Association, and a Merit Award from NIH [6]  She was also the first woman honored by the Max Planck Institute for Psychiatry with its Emil Kraepelin Professor für Psychiatrie Award. Goldman-Rakic concentrated much research on what she called "working memory," describing it as the "blackboard of the mind" or "online memory" [6]  For many years, the frontal lobe was considered inaccessible to rigorous exploration.  Goldman-Rakic's focus was an in-depth elaboration of the workings of the frontal lobe from single cells to…how cells communicated with each other to how primates behaved [6]  This was all part of her work and part of what made her a pioneer. Goldman-Rakic's research and discoveries with the prefrontal cortex spread throughout the area of schizophrenia research.  According to Amy Arnsten [7] Goldman-Rakic single-handedly elevated it from phenomenology and speculation, to an understanding of basic mechanisms of disease. Goldman-Rakic was not alone in attributing an important role in working memory to the frontal lobes, an area of the neocortex largely expanded in primates but she was, however, rare in her unwavering belief that the key to understanding something as complex as working memory lies in understanding the interactions of multiple elements found in this cortical region [11]  Studies she did in the 1970s demonstrated that the loss of dopamine in the prefrontal cortex led to severe disruptions in working memory, a profound discovery for neuropsychiatry [6]  Those studies helped with the understanding of how drugs were used to treat the symptoms of a broad range of mental illnesses.  She developed intricate and delicate procedures for placing minute lesions into the prefrontal cortex to explore how the lesions affected the animals’ learning and memory functions [4] A quick search on Medline will document the magnitude of Goldman-Rakic's influence on neuroscience [7] In the 16 years before the publication of her seminal 1987 paper on prefrontal cortical circuitry and function, only 628 papers were published on prefrontal cortex. In the 16 years since 1987, there have been over 6,800 [7]  I think this substantial increase in the number of published works just goes one step further to explain why her colleagues call her a pioneer of her field.  She led the way for women as well as other neurobiologists into a field that was previously thought of as untouchable.  Goldman-Rakic was not alone in attributing an important role in working memory to the frontal lobes, an area of the neocortex largely expanded in primates but she was, however, rare in her unwavering belief that the key to understanding something as complex as working memory lies in understanding the interactions of multiple elements found in this cortical region [11]  Studies she did in the 1970s demonstrated that the loss of dopamine in the prefrontal cortex led to severe disruptions in working memory, a profound discovery for neuropsychiatry.[6]  Those studies helped with the understanding of how drugs were used to treat the symptoms of a broad range of mental illnesses.

Awards [2] Edit

See also Edit

References Edit

  1. Renowned neuroscientist Patricia Goldman-Rakic dies, Yale Bulletin and Calendar, Volume 32, Number 1, August 29, 2003
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 "Patricia Goldman-Rakic." Newsmakers, Issue 4. Gale Group, 2002. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Thomson Gale. 2007. http://galenet.galegroup.com/servlet/BioRC
  3. J. M. Fuster, Patricia Goldman-Rakic 1937-2003, Nature Neuroscience 6, 1015 (2003) DOI:10.1038/nn1003-1015
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Kevles, B.H, Schechter, G., P (2004). The biology of memory. Vassar the Alumnae/iQuarterly 101 (1).
  5. 5.0 5.1 M. Dawson, Patricia Goldman-Rakic dies, The Scientist 2003, 4(1):20030807-03
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 includeonly>Dawson, M. "scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/22379/title/Patricia-Goldman-Rakic-dies/ Patricia Goldman-Rakic dies: Sudden death of multidisciplinary trailblazer in frontal lobe studies shocks the world of neuroscience".
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 includeonly>Arnsten, A. "Patricia Goldman-Rakic: A remembrance. Neuron".
  8. 8.0 8.1 In Memoriam: Patricia Goldman-Rakic, Yale news release
  9. Goldman-Rakic PS (1995). Cellular basis of working memory. Neuron 14: 447–485.
  10. Arnsten Af (2003). Patricia Goldman-Rakic: A Remembrance. Neuron 40: 465–70.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Levitt, P (2003). Patricia Goldman-Rakic: The quintessential multidisciplinary scientist.. PLoS Biology 1 (2): 38.

External links Edit

Template:Connecticut Women's Hall of Fame

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