The Marco Polo of neuroscience

Posted: September 15, 2009

An article published The New Yorker last month tells the story of behavioral neurologist Dr. Vilayanur S. Ramachandran and the great impact that he is having on the field of neuroscience and psychology. John Colapinto describes how Dr. Ramachandran who, showing how the brain has ability to reorganize itself and change, has helped revolutionize the way neuroscientists view the brain, neurological syndromes, and psychological disorders.

Drawing from his hands-on roots as a child in India where he collected and studied fossils and performed chemistry experiments in a makeshift home-laboratory, Ramachandran brings a remarkable ingenuity and creativity to the study of neuroscience. This “Sherlock Holmes” type approach to the brain, affirming the brain’s plasticity, has allowed him to produce breakthrough research in areas that have baffled scientists for decades. For example, he was able to explain and treat “phantom limb” syndrome and the pain that goes along with that condition. He has also changed previously accepted explanations of Capgras delusion (the belief that loved ones are impostors) and apotemnophilia (the desire to amputate your own limb). Ramachandran’s work has helped cause a wide-spread reforming in neurological thought that is all grounded in the notion that the brain is plastic.

The implications of Ramachandran’s work are far-reaching and exciting. Click below to read the article’s abstract (registration required to read full article). Also click below to see a video of Dr. Ramachandran explain these game-changing ideas himself. This is just another example of how the ideas of neuroplasticity are gaining traction, and yielding tangible benefits.

Click here to read the article
Click here to watch the video