Great Throughts Treasury

This site is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Alan William Smolowe who gave birth to the creation of this database.

Patricia Goldman-Rakic, born Patricia Shoer

American Neuroscientist and Neurobiologist, Professor of Neurobiology at Yale

"The ultimate function of the neurons in the prefrontal cortex is to excite or inhibit activity in other parts of the brain.” In prohibition and shame we excite the most destructive systems and inhibit the creative ones."

"This is the first evidence suggesting that schizophrenia in humans might be caused by damage to neurons in the cortex or thalamus during fetal development... Our study adds weight to the theory that fetal brain damage predisposes an individual to become schizophrenic after the hormonal changes of puberty. Such brain damage in conjunction with life events occurring at or around puberty may interact to allow for expression of the disease's symptoms."

"The significance of working memory for higher cortical function is not necessarily self-evident. Perhaps even the quality of its transient nature misleads us into thinking it is somehow less important than the more permanent archival nature of long-term memory. However, the brain’s working memory function, i.e., the ability to bring to mind events in the absence of direct stimulation, may be its inherently most flexible mechanism and its evolutionarily most significant achievement. Thus, working memory confers the ability to guide behavior by representations of the outside world rather than by immediate stimulation, and thus to base behavior on ideas and thoughts."

"Working memory in its most elementary form, the ability to keep events "in mind" for short periods of time, has been studied in nonhuman primates by delayed-response paradigms. Whereas in humans, facts and events accessed from long-term memory stores can be instigated by verbal instructions, in experiments with animals, the information to be processed has to be provided by the experimenter."