Dr. Schmied gives a fireside chat

On April 15 Dr. Lori Schmied, Professor of Psychology, and Coordinator of Neurosciences here at Maryville College, hosted a fireside chat at the RT Lodge to discuss her new book, “The Advance of Neuroscience.” The setting was casual as fellow professors, alumni, students, and community members gathered around the beautiful, outdoor fire pit on the sunny Monday evening.

Schmied kicked off the discussion with a brief outline of her book that included topics like the medicine of the Victorian area, and how it correlates to present-day medical assumptions, phrenology and the use of MRI’s, and studies in the applied neurosciences.

A major point that Dr. Schmied wanted to impress—keep in mind that I am not a psychology major—was the idea that scientists should remain humble in their search to an understanding of the human brain.

We can better understand this necessity when looking back to the ideas and opinions of Victorian-era scientists regarding the brain and human body.

“One of my favorite quotes included in the book is attributed to J. D. Davies, ‘No one denies that the science of one generation is the pseudoscience of the next,’” said Schmied. Schmied also touched on the way that drug studies have been conducted in the past in order to better build studies for the future.

“The double-blind placebo-controlled study may be limiting in its design to study hallucinogens, for example. Take for instance the tests on LSD from the 1970s that are not considered today as viable research in some medical communities,” said Schmied.

Once the discussion got rolling, it took many turns and twists, all of which were extremely interesting and informative. Schmied brought up some amazing points regarding some common misnomers on topics like opioid epidemics and brain detoxification. Both of these topics are discussed in-depth in her book.

The main takeaway from our fireside chat was the idea that at some point in history the study of the body and the study of the brain became two separate fields, and this division, according to Schmied, leaves much to be explored and discovered when considering the two parts as a whole, the body.

These fireside chats are a great opportunity available to students, faculty and community members, to celebrate the accomplishments of our incredible faculty members. They also are a learning experience that feels like a natural extension of our liberal arts curriculum.

Keep an eye out for upcoming fireside chats. If you’re interested in buying Dr. Schmied’s new book, “The Advance of Neuroscience,” it is available from McFarland, Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and the MC Bookstore.

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