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Friday, October 28, 2011

Harvard Psychiatrist Examines Zombie Brains

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A sheep's brain. (Kevin Sullivan/Here & Now)Dr. Steve Scholzman prods a sheep's brain. (Kevin Sullivan/Here & Now)Dr. Steve Scholzman holds a sheep's brain in Here & Now studios at WBUR in Boston. (Kevin Sullivan/Here & Now)Dr. Steve Scholzman shows a sheep's brain to Here & Now's Sacha Pfeiffer. (Kevin Sullivan/Here & Now)Dr. Steve Scholzman, holding a sheep's brain with Here & Now's Sacha Pfeiffer. (Kevin Sullivan/Here & Now)

Have you ever wondered why zombies stagger around with their arms stretched out, clamoring through cemeteries in search of victims? And how come they refuse to talk, just moaning from time to time. And why are they so hungry (mainly for human brains!).

The answers to these eternal questions can be found in the brain! Harvard psychiatrist and zombie fanatic, Dr. Steven Schlozman, uses the conceit of a zombie brain to help explain how the real human brain works.

He brought some sheep brains into the Here & Now studio to illustrate how the brain works, and point out where zombie brains are short circuited. For example, the frontal lobe, which controls reasoning and keeps our impulses in check, would likely be missing in an undead brain. And the ventromedial hypothalamus, which tells humans whether they’ve had enough to eat, is likely to be on the fritz in zombies, who have an insatiable appetite.

Dr. Schlozman dives into these mysteries and more. He’s even gone so far as to write a pseudo-scientific article on zombie brains. He says that by talking about zombie brains, he actually gets high school kids interested in figuring out how real human brains work.

“If I come in as a little, short bald guy and say I’m going to talk about the brain, and I’m a shrink, they’re going to decide that they already know what I’m going to say,” Schlozman joked. “But, if I say we’re going to talk about zombies, they’re going to perk up and listen.”

But what’s really driving Dr. Schlozman is his obsession with the undead. He recently wrote a novel, called “The Zombie Autopsies,” and is working with “Night of the Living Dead,” director George Romero to turn it into a screenplay, perhaps in time for next Halloween.

Guest:

  • Dr. Steve Scholzman, author of “The Zombie Autopsies”

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