Levi-Montalcini won the Nobel in 1986 for her discovery of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein that helps control when and where brain cells grow.
Fiercely independent, she’s escaped fascist regimes, anti-semitism and the bombing of Turin, where she continued her work by setting up a laboratory in a country cottage.
Do the workings of the brain still hold mysteries? ‚ÄúNo, it is much less mysterious. We have the most amazing scientific and technological advances. We have been able to see how the brain does work. And now discoveries are being made by by anatomists and physiologists or experts in behavioural science, physicists and mathematicians, computer experts, biochemists, and molecular scientists. The barriers are breaking down between disciplines. At 100 years of age I am still making discoveries about the factor that I myself discovered more than half a century ago.‚Äù
Despite her neurobiological nous, cognitive neuroscience is obviously not her strong point as she does spout some nonsense about brain hemispheres in a few places though, like “The important thing is to have lived with serenity using the rational left-hand side of one’s brain, and not the right side, the instinctive side, which leads to misery and tragedy.”
Or the backside, which leads to… oh forget it.
Link to the Times on Rita Levi-Montalcini.