Reviews: My Love Affair with the Brain




…..” … prepare to be smitten …”


Full text:     How can you not fall in love with a woman who carries around a preserved human brain inside a giant flowery hat box? Meet Dr. Marian Diamond, renowned academic and research scientist, and prepare to be smitten.

Catherine Ryan and Gary Weimberg’s film follows this remarkable woman over a 5-year period and introduces the viewer to both her many scientific accomplishments and the warm, funny, and thoroughly charming woman herself, who describes her 60-year career researching the human brain as “pure joy.”

      As one of the founders of modern neuroscience, it’s no exaggeration to say that Dr. Diamond changed science, and society at large in dramatic ways over the course of her career. Her groundbreaking work is all the more remarkable because it began during an era when so few women entered science at all. Shouted at from the back of the conference hall by noteworthy male academics as she presented her research, and disparaged in the scientific journals of a more conservative era, Dr. Diamond simply did the work and followed where her curiosity led her, bringing about a paradigm shift (or two) in the process.

      As she points out, in order to get to the answers that matter, you have to start by asking the right questions.

from Doxa, Documentary Film Festival, Vancouver, Canada.



” If her name isn’t yet as familiar as that of Marie Curie, it will be.”MVFF ticket page

Full text and tickets:  Meet Dr. Marian Diamond as she pulls a human brain out of a hatbox and lovingly enumerates its astonishing qualities. A mad scientist? Quite the opposite. In this energetic documentary, Dr. Diamond is revealed as one of the great minds—one of the founders, in fact—of modern neuroscience. If her name isn’t yet as familiar as that of Marie Curie, it will be: Dr. Diamond’s unprecedented work includes theorizing and proving previously unimagined brain capabilities, analyzing Albert Einstein’s preserved brain, and building a scientific and academic career that broke barriers for women in science. Much like the old adage about Ginger Rogers doing it all backwards and in heels, Dr. Diamond achieved every success with steely determination behind astonishing positivity, warmth, and magnetism. Watch this to learn about an amazing woman, a brilliant scientist, a fascinating branch of scientific research, and about the core element that fuels great achievement in all endeavors: love.

from Mill Valley Film Festival – where we also received an Audience Favorite Award!



.” … utterly charming, inspiring documentary…”

The Stark Insider, CA (click for full text, quite a rave review!)


50_human-brain_overhead_v3_green“… a must see for every student, teacher, parent, community member, and higher education teacher prep program!”

PEGGY BROOKINS, President and CEO, National Board for Professional Teaching Standards

50_human-brain_overhead_v3_green“…reveals the soul of science through the remarkable life of Marian Diamond….”

Science has a soul, an intangible passion of the human spirit driven by wonder and delight in discovery of nature’s beauty and intricate mysteries.  My Love Affair with the Brain reveals the soul of science through the remarkable life of Marian Diamond.  Her passion to explore the brain, her keen insights into how it responds to our experiences, and her drive to share her enchantment and discoveries with a new generation shines in this inspirational documentary.”
R. DOUGLAS FIELDS, Neuroscientist and Author of The Other Brain, and Why We Snap


RiverRun_Bestof FestAudience Award for Best of Festival

RiverRun International Film Festival
140 films screened,
1,500 films submitted,
16,000 audience participating
… and one Best of Festival award.
Note:  Not just best documentary, but best film overall (Sorry Gérard Depardieu and Isabelle Huppert!)

GeorgiaStraight MYLAB review comp

…..” … utterly fascinating …”

full text: “Dr. Marian Diamond keeps a preserved human brain in a delicate hatbox, eagerly uncovering the spongy organ for anyone who shows even the faintest of interest. And it is utterly fascinating.”

“A revolutionary figure in modern neuroscience, Diamond is a rock star as seen through the lens of filmmakers Catherine Ryan and Gary Weimberg. Her groundbreaking studies are chronicled with care, offering a thoroughly inspiring crash-course in human anatomy that many academics still take for granted today.”

“But even more captivating than the research is the woman herself: a subject of undying curiosity, charm, and an infectious zeal—even in the face of rampant sexism—which makes the answer to her question, “Don’t you just love the brain?”—ahem—a no-brainer.”

The Georgia Straight

Weekly newspaper of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.


The Gerontologist


…..“…the film succeeds marvelously … As gerontologists, we owe a debt of gratitude to Marian Diamond …”


To our delight and surprise, the first review came before the film was even completed.  the work-in-progress web episodes of My Love Affair with the Brain: The Life and Science of Dr. Marian Diamond were reviewed in The Gerontologist, the peer reviewed journal of The Gerontological Society of America.

Click here to read or download entire piece


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Winston-Salem Journal

The first official review, April 6th, 2016, reviewed as part of the RiverRun film festival.

…..“With characteristic good humor …”

Full Text:     “With characteristic good humor,  this delightful film about a pioneering brain scientist opens with the warning: “The inside of the body can be messy.” Marian Diamond doggedly and good-naturedly pursued research on the human brain in the face of resistance from the scientific community. “My Love Affair with the Brain” documents her charm and intelligence and shows how she proved that the brain can be changed and enriched throughout its life, as well as the likely link between being positive and a strong immune system.”


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From U.C. Berkeley:

Brain scientist Marian Diamond subject of new documentary


…..“Film covers the multifaceted career of a “brain whisperer … “

“The documentary, filmed over five years, covers the personal, scientific and teaching career of a neuroscientist who changed the way we think about the brain and eventually became a YouTube celebrity and role model for women.”

“What she revealed about the brain allows us to get the most out of our brain, not just as children but for our entire lives,” according to the producers. “She is a beloved professor, worthy role model, especially for women and girls in science, and all-around brain whisperer.”

“Her lectures, which often ended in applause, earned her many teaching awards, while her research on the brain inspired many others to take up brain research, pursue science or just nurture their curiosity about nature.”

University of California News, click here for whole article.


AAAS MyLAB facebook snap

AAAS Facebook: World Premiere of ‘My Love Affair’ Announced

including delicious comments such as “No zombie ever loved brains as much as this eloquent, stylish researcher-lady.”
AAAS is the American Association for the Advancement of Science, publisher of the prestigious Science magazine, and the largest general interest science organization in the world.

Three weeks after the original posting on AAAS site, this video had over 19,000 views, the most that AAAS has ever had for any post or video.     View here

507_Marian_v3 antiqueFrom Mercury News:       “… delightful … “

If you couldn’t make it to the Mill Valley Film Festival, you missed the delightful “My Love Affair With the Brain,” a documentary from Catherine Ryan and Gary Weimberg about the remarkable achievements of retired Cal professor Dr. Marian Diamond. But you’re in luck …  (continued here)

4676_brain-in-light_v2jFrom Oakland Magazine:   “… fascinating …”

This classic 50s B-movie about a lab-coat wearing, beaker-carrying scientist who finds herself falling for a suave disembodied brain from another world is – what? Oh. Never mind, it’s the equally fascinating story of Berkeley anatomy professor and trail-blazing brain researcher Dr. Marian Diamond.  (continued here)

membercentral-AAAS article_v3

From AAAS MemberCentral:

New documentary focuses on neuroscience trailblazer Marian Diamond

“The story of her remarkable career, which helped set the foundation for modern neuroscience and which touched students across the globe  … a powerful tool to encourage scientific literacy and spreading this role model for women and girls in STEM.”

Read here


50_human-brain_overhead_v3_green“A brilliant, buoyant, enlightening and beautiful film that achieves just the right balance between the ‘personal’ and the ‘scientific.’
JOYCE CAROL OATES, Author; Distinguished Professor of Humanities, Princeton University; member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters

50_human-brain_overhead_v3_green“Marian Diamond has made two major contributions to Neural Science that have stood the test of time.  First, she has documented the dramatic consequences on brain development of an impoverished environment compared to an enriched one.  Second, she has developed a new way of teaching students about the anatomy of the brain that is both highly original and very exciting.  Bravo!”
ERIC R. KANDEL M.D.  Nobel Prize Recipient, Professor, Departments of Neuroscience, Psychiatry, Biochemistry& Molecular Biophysics, Physiology & Cellular Biophysics, Columbia University

50_human-brain_overhead_v3_greenshould be required viewing for all students and professionals in gerontology, geriatrics, and adult development and aging.   It offers an intimate introduction to Dr. Marian Diamond, one of the most important contributors to our understanding of the growth potential of the aging brain. The film shares the story of her revolutionary work in the 1960’s that showed that the human brain can continue to develop throughout life….Today’s “New Gerontology” paradigm descends directly from Dr. Diamond’s scientific and instructional efforts to nullify false stereotypes of aging.   The video also displays her long and continuing career as a mentor and inspirational model for new generations of gerontologists. The film has high relevance for students of science in general, especially those interested in scientific revolutions.
RICK J. SCHEIDT, College of Human Ecology, Kansas State University

50_human-brain_overhead_v3_green“Marian Diamond is a true trailblazer.  As a neuroscientist and anatomist, she helped revolutionize our understanding of brain function, particularly with regard to neural plasticity. Her pioneering work continues to drive new discoveries in healthcare and education. The entire field of Neural Rehabilitation owes her a debt of gratitude for providing early evidence that with the right type of stimulation, we can indeed change the brain.  As a result, we have completely changed how we treat individuals with stroke and other neurological problems.
Over decades, Marian persevered and maintained a positive outlook in the face of adversity, especially when it came to the male-dominated scientific culture of the time. This film is not only an important archive of the history of Marian Diamond’s ground-breaking work during a time when very few women could be found in the upper echelons of science, but it also is a reminder of how one person can have a profound effect on enhancing knowledge and the quality of life across the globe. Her life serves as an inspiration to millions and likely will continue to do so for years to come.”
ALISON L. MCKENZIE, Crean College of Health and Behavioral Science, Chapman University


“Not only a wonderful film about an amazing scientist but also about an extraordinary teacher.  As a teacher trainer in the Department of Applied Linguistics at UCLA for over twenty years, I strongly urge college/university teacher training programs across the country to use this film as an example of effective classroom instruction for future secondary and post-secondary teachers. ”
LINDA JENSEN DARLING, University lecturer,  UCLA / UC Berkeley

50_human-brain_overhead_v3_green“Any library would be well served to have this in their collection.  The UC Berkeley Bioscience and Natural Resources library was proud to participate in the premier of “My Love Affair with the Brain”.  She is renowned for her biology courses and ever present hatbox, brain included.  The Library collections include her oral history, her papers, and many of her publications.”
SUSAN KOSKINEN, Head, Life & Health Sciences Library Division, University of California, Berkeley

50_human-brain_overhead_v3_green“A must see movie for anyone with a curiosity about the brain and the history of brain science. It follows the world famous Dr. Marian Diamond as she discovers that we can change and grow our brain circuits at any age.”
LOUANN BRIZENDINE  MD, Professor of Clinical Psychiatry, Lynne and Marc Benioff Endowed Professor of Clinical Psychiatry, UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences, University of California, San Francisco

50_human-brain_overhead_v3_green“… a thrilling and inspiring film about one of the great teachers and pioneers of neuroscience, Marian Diamond, who taught at Berkeley well into her 80’s. The film shows how she was such an incomparable teacher and mentor to generations of students and how she was among the first to demonstrate the incredible plasticity of brain; the film follows her as she applies these ideas in the real world.”
CHARLES G. GROSS, Professor Emeritus of Psychology and the Princeton Neuroscience Institute

50_human-brain_overhead_v3_green“Marian had the inner strength to not only find a career path for herself despite a pretty misogynistic culture, but also had the ability to become the role model that so many women needed, and still need. I’ll never forget her warmth and welcome when I was hired onto the Berkeley faculty. Marian is a scientist, a woman, a mother, a friend, a wife, and so much more because she is comfortable in all of those identities. She taught me by example that it is not only ok to wear pink in the lab, but to do so with pride. This film perfectly captures Marian. I am so happy that Luna Productions is able to bring Marian’s inspiration to such a wide audience.”
LESLEA J. HLUSKO Department of Integrative Biology, University of California, Berkeley

50_human-brain_overhead_v3_green“This film, like Marian Diamond herself, is an inspiration.  It is a loving tribute to a mentor and researcher who, through her academic curiosity and intellectual generosity, has opened the doors of neuroscience to millions of individuals around the world.  In the words of Cajal, it will infuse every neuron of your brain with “noble and lofty inquietudes.”
BOB JACOBS, Professor of Neuroscience, Colorado College

50_human-brain_overhead_v3_green“Working successfully in science is in some part about finding the questions that awaken your passions for discovery and truth.  As this wonderful documentary attests, it is also about how you work with others to ask the question in a way that is answerable, and thence to the stepwise approach to seeking the validity of the answers you have supposed to be attainable.  Dr. Diamond was a brilliant scientist because she mastered both of these challenges, and even better, was able to communicate and educate about her love of the creative act and the rigorous personal and team-building discipline she lived as a neuroscientist.  As this documentary shows, Marian was a wonderful person because in the face of the sexism of the mid-20th century science community, she persevered in her ability to share her love of science.  But also she created beautiful children, a lasting bond with her wonderful husband, and, in her love of others, succeeded in so many admirable ways in her work and life.”
NORMAN KACHUCK, MD, Neurologist, Keck Medical Center of USC, (retired)


“Marian Diamond is to the brain like Julia Childs is to French cooking.  Celebrated, beloved, one of the most popular teachers in the world brings you her passion about the brain.  The film is a personal story about the thrill of discovery and drive of curiosity.  A brain owners manual…”
MARILYN BANCEL, Exploratorium Science Museum, Director of Development, (retired)


“This movie is fantastic and tells one of the most inspiring stories in modern neuroscience. It presents such a good message of a women in a man’s field plowing her own way. I would love for all kids to watch it … so inspiring, so moving story, and what a fabulous way to tell it!! ”
DANIELA KAUFER, Associate Professor, Dept of Integrative Biology and Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute, UC Berkeley

mylab_dvd-label_v1 pngCollege Student questionaires:
“This video series was one of the most interesting and entertaining videos I’ve seen. Although I had never thought of the significant founders of anatomy, I had always assumed men were ultimately responsible for the major paradigm changes as with most fields in science. It was encouraging how enthusiastic Marian was about anatomy and inspiring to remind ourselves of the excitement about how amazing science is.”

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“Her love was infectious in that this love and passion for the brain are slowly creeping up on me, and I hope to be as intelligent and passionate about anatomy as she is.”

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“I was really astonished and amazed by Professor’s Diamonds work, through a lot of hardships and challenges, she really is the forefront in brain plasticity and anatomical sciences. “

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“This most interesting thing to me about the videos was Prof. Diamond’s discovery that an enriched environment can increase brain mass and function, because not only was it a scientific breakthrough, it is also remarkably useful information for anyone to know. It helped me see how anatomy could be useful not only for purely medical or surgical purposes, but also to promote wellness.”

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“It is crazy to grasp just how much Professor Marian Diamond has accomplished, from the plethora of publications to being the first woman to receive a PhD in anatomy at Berkeley. Her videos are so inspirational and her accomplishments are what inspires me to challenge myself and become more successful.”

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“Even given my indirect and very limited exposure to Professor Diamond, through her lecture videos on youtube and the documentary, her powerful and generous spirit have made her a larger-than-life figure in eyes. I am in awe of the legacy she has left on this campus and the lasting impact she has made in all of her students’ lives and the world.”

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“I find it uplifting that Professor Diamond was the first woman to attend UC Berkeley’s graduate program for anatomy, seeing as that I am a woman myself. In my opinion I find it pretty awesome that she grew up to not live in fear of a strong man.”

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“This video really opened my eyes to that as well as the fact that she was an incredible hopeful, inspirational, and optimistic human being. Watching this video made me want to further my education and learn more about anatomy”





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