Upton, NY - Robert G. Shulman, Sterling Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry at Yale University, will give a lecture on "Exploring Brain Function with Nuclear Magnetic Resonance" at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory on Thursday, February 27, at 4 p.m. in the Laboratory's Berkner Hall. The lecture is the second in the BNL 50th Anniversary Distinguished Lecture Series, which features talks on various scientific topics throughout 1997 to celebrate Brookhaven's beginning a half-century ago. The talks are open to the public free of charge.
Discovered in 1946, nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) is a phenomenon in which atomic nuclei exposed to a magnetic field absorb energy from a radio-frequency field at characteristic frequencies. NMR has been used by biologists, chemists and physicists for studying living tissues and numerous materials. Recently, two new NMR techniques have made it possible for scientists to gain information noninvasively on brain function in living humans and animals.
The first technique, known as functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging, is used by researchers to localize brain activity during sensory or cognitive stimulation of the subject. Images of the subject's brain at rest and then during the performance of an intellectual task are compared, to probe cognitive processes.
The second NMR technique involves measuring the activity of glutamate, a neurotransmitter that carries signals from one nerve cell to another in the brain. This neurotransmitter activity is correlated with changes in brain activity and energy consumption.
Professor Shulman will discuss the benefits and pitfalls of these methods as well as their potential to revolutionize the scientific understanding of brain activity.
Robert G. Shulman earned an A.B. and Ph.D. in chemistry from Columbia University in 1943 and 1949 respectively. After completing a postdoctoral fellowship at the California Institute of Technology, he became head of the semiconductor research section at Hughes Aircraft Company in 1950. Three years later, he joined the technical staff at Bell Laboratories, where he eventually became head of the biophysics research department.
After joining the Yale faculty in 1979, he became director of the division of biological sciences from 1981-87 and assumed his present position in 1994. A member of the National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine, he is a recipient of the Havinga Medal of the University of Leiden and the Gold Medal of the Society of Magnetic Resonance in Medicine.
For more information on the lecture, call Brookhaven's Public Affairs Office at (516)344-2345. The Laboratory is located on William Floyd Parkway (County Road 46), one-and-a-half miles north of Exit 68 on the Long Island Expressway.
Brookhaven National Laboratory carries out basic and applied research in physical, biomedical and environmental sciences and in selected energy technologies. Associated Universities, Inc., a nonprofit research management organization, operates the Laboratory under contract with the U.S. Department of Energy.