Acclaimed neurologist, author, and philosopher Oliver Sacks revealed earlier this year that he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. The New York Times has announced his death this morning. Sacks wrote about neurological research in a way that the layman could not only understand, but that would spark deep thought into the meaning of mind and consciousness. He wrote about patients who displayed unusual abilities and disabilities of the brain, as in the book The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, and neurological research, such as his discovery of the effects of L-dopa on the brains of catatonic patients in Awakenings, which was made into the 1990 film starring Robin Williams as Sacks.
His intellectual curiosity took him even further. On his website, Dr. Sacks maintained a partial list of topics he had written about. It included aging, amnesia, color, deafness, dreams, ferns, Freud, hallucinations, neural Darwinism, phantom limbs, photography, pre-Columbian history, swimming and twins.
“I am very tenacious, for better or worse,” he wrote in “A Leg to Stand On.” “If my attention is engaged, I cannot disengage it. This may be a great strength, or weakness. It makes me an investigator. It makes me an obsessional.”
The Times has more on Sacks' extraordinary life and work. Sacks died of cancer Sunday morning at his home in New York. He was 82.
(Image credit: © Luigi Novi / Wikimedia Commons)
See also: Our previous posts on Sacks.