MC’s Schmied publishes book about history of neuroscience

MC’s Schmied publishes book about history of neuroscience

Feb. 1, 2019

Dr. Lori Schmied, professor of psychology and coordinator of the neuroscience program at Maryville College, has recently published The Advance of Neuroscience: Twelve Topics from the Victorian Era to Today (McFarland, 2019).

The book, which is available from McFarland and Amazon, “explores topics on the brain, psychoactive drugs, and a variety of human behaviors and experiences—such as music and sleep—taking into consideration the importance of historical roots of neuroscience, which can often be overlooked,” according to the book description, which states that the mind-body relationship has been studied for a long time, but it is only in the last 50 years that the term “neuroscience” has been applied to the academic disciplines focusing on brain and behavior. The book particularly examines the importance of the Victorian era in the development of theories of the nervous system, which are still visible in today’s discourse on brain and behavior.

Schmied said she recognized the need for the book after years of presenting scholarly papers at conferences. For those presentations, she would take a contemporary issue in neuroscience or psychopharmacology and examine it from a historical perspective.

“I then realized that existing works where issues were discussed from both contemporary and historical perspectives were not common,” she said. “It was usually one approach or the other. So I thought a ‘now and then’ approach might be of use to readers with an interest in neuroscience topics.”

The book covers 12 topics organized in three sections: “The Brain,” “Drugs and Behavior” and “Applied Neuroscience.” The section on “The Brain” examines the cerebral hemispheres, sleep, music and the brain, and whether functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) is the new phrenology. “Drugs and Behavior” includes information about “Victorian explorations of psychoactive drugs,” hallucinogens and opiates. The section on “Applied Neuroscience” explores the gut and the brain, Viagra, personality types, drug rehab and the “Rest Cure” (a famous treatment of neurasthenia).

While the book’s intended audience includes academic researchers, teachers and students who study or have an interest in neuroscience, the history of psychology or the history of science and medicine, Schmied said she has tried to make the book accessible to the non-academic reader with an interest in neuroscience.

Schmied also plans to use the book in the classroom at Maryville College. In both her Advanced Neuroscience course and History and Systems of Psychology course, she emphasizes that “a better understanding of contemporary topics can be had by learning the historical background.”

Schmied earned her bachelor’s degree and doctorate from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Her doctorate is in psychophysiology and health psychology, and her postdoctoral research focused on psychopharmacology. She was also an Honorary Research Fellow at University College London in the United Kingdom and collaborated with the Psychopharmacology Unit for many years. Her early research focused on how physiology interacts with personality characteristics in affecting health outcomes, particularly coronary heart disease. Another area of interest over the years involved studying psychoactive drug action. She has since shifted to historical research in the areas of psychopharmacology (drugs and behavior) and neuroscience and has given numerous presentations on her work at professional conferences.

Schmied, who joined the Maryville College faculty in 1989, regularly teaches the following courses at MC: Introduction to Neuroscience, Advanced Neuroscience, Drugs and Behavior, Theories of Personality, and Contemporary and Professional Issues in Psychology. She also works with students to co-present their Senior Study work in both psychology and neuroscience at professional conferences. Additionally, she is involved with international education at Maryville College, co-leading travel-study programs to the United Kingdom and Ireland, Switzerland and South Africa.

Maryville College is a nationally-ranked institution of higher learning and one of America’s oldest colleges. For more than 200 years, we’ve educated students to be giving citizens and gifted leaders, to study everything, so that they are prepared for anything — to address any problem, engage with any audience and launch successful careers right away. Located in Maryville, Tennessee, between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the city of Knoxville, Maryville College offers nearly 1,200  students from around the world both the beauty of a rural setting and the advantages of an urban center, as well as more than 60 majors, seven pre-professional programs and career preparation from their first day on campus to their last. Today, our 10,000 alumni are living life strong of mind and brave of heart and are prepared, in the words of our Presbyterian founder, to “do good on the largest possible scale.”