Zombies, brains, and media, oh my!

in Pop Culture
February 8th, 2011

Bookmark and Share

Zombies attack! – well, the media, anyway. From movies and television shows (this past Sunday on Glee!) to books and conventions, zombies are taking over. zombiebrainLast year, “Seattle, the self-proclaimed zombie capital of the world, was host to ZomBcon, the first ever Zombie Culture Convention, over Halloween weekend at the Seattle Center Exhibition Hall.

A “symbolic tribute” to zombie film director, George A. Romero, the event allowed fans to gather over three days to “celebrate all things zombie.”  The creator, Ryan Reiter, also organized a Red, White & Dead Zombie Walk for Independence Day (Guinness Book World Record for “largest gathering of zombies” with 4200… New BU Initiative: Beat this Guinness Book World Record?)

Back to zombies though – on April 13th, 2009, Dr. Steven Schlozman , a Harvard psychiatrist, went to the Coolidge Corner Theater (close by in Brookline!) to discuss and answer questions about the neurobiology of zombies before a screening of Night of the Living Dead.

Having studied zombie films and literature as well as consulting with the director Romero noted above, Dr. Scholzman is quite informed in zombie-ology. Amazingly, the enthusiastic response from thbzimagese moviegoers inspired him to go viral and, according to Rebecca Jacobson on PBS, “take the lecture nationwide.”

Ira Flatow of National Public Radio had an interview with him in October 2009, in which of Dr. Scholzman, he says his fake research aids attempts to “see if there could be…a vaccine to protect us from … zombies, just in case.” Later, when asked by a caller about the different kinds of zombies portrayed in movies, he distinguished between the typical, slow Romero-type of zombie and the fast, more sophisticated “28 Days later” type that can exhibit hunting and other pack behaviors – “neurobiologically speaking, they got to be different.” brainimsadasdages

He has actually also written a popular science book, The Zombie Autopsies: Secret Notebooks from the Apocalypse. With 208 pages of zombie-brain-apocalyptic fun, his book will be released March 25th, 2011 for as little as $11.25 on Amazon. (Check out his zombieautopsies twitter for more on the book and his theories!)

Rebecca Jacobson notes that Dr. Scholzman is using a very straightforward, fun, teaching approach to help his students apply neuroscience to new situations. Dr. Scholzman believes adults “learn better when they can apply new knowledge to something familiar, before going on to tackle more complex neuropsychiatric cases.”

Teaching science in new ways is very valuable to Doron Weber of the Sloan Foundation, which has “has promoted filmmakers writing screenplays and making movies with science themes.” He says, “science and technology are woven into the fabric of our lives, but people all too often see it as something exotic or unusual. What we are doing here is bringing the real person, a scientist, so people can see that science is a very human activity.”

The Coolidge Corner Theater tries to bring science to the public by holding Science on Screen events, tickets only $7.75 for students. This February 21st, the film Death in Venice will be screened following a discussion with Nancy Etcoff, who is a psychologist on the faculty at Harvard Medical School. She wrote Survival of the Prettiest: The Science of Beauty. Just a month later, on March 21st, Transcendent Man will be screened and discussed with both Ray Kurzweil, “one of the world’s leading futurists,” and director Barry Ptolemy. Go to http://www.coolidge.org/science for more information!

Back to brains though! In Dr. Scholzman’s fictional, futuristic papers on the neurobiology of zombies, he writes that zombies suffer from ANSDS (Ataxic Neurodegenerative Satiety Deficiency Syndrome). He strives to explain the hunger, rage, movement, and so forth of zombies. Interestingly, he says that zombies can only be fueled by rage, like crocodiles, and hence, have highly active amygdalae. Because of this, he originally named their syndrome RAH (Reptilian Aggression Hunger Syndrome), but that was before the fictional International Picture 3Classification of Disease decided to change it to ANSDS in “2012”… find out more, including his theory on how zombies always eat but never..you know excrete, here!

While Dr. Scholzman is not the only person to try to explain the neuroscience of zombies, he does it very well and has been received enthusiastically by many. Interestingly though, the new hit TV series, The Picture 4Walking Dead, attempts describing what happens to the brain after infection and into resurrection. Watch this Youtube clip to see Dr. Edwin Jenner use MRI virtual camera to show the other characters what he has learned of zombies! How does his explanation line up with Dr. Scholzman’s? What’s your theory?


A Head-Shrinker Studies The Zombie Brain – Ira Flatow, National Public Radio

ZomBcon 2010: Seattle Hosts First Ever Zombie Convention – Timothy Lemke, Yahoo! Games, Plugged in

A Harvard Psychiatrist Explains Zombie Neurobiology – Mark Strauss,  io9 forum

What Zombies Can Teach Us About Brains – Rebecca Jacobson, PBS

Silver Screen Scientists Unleashed – Dan Vergano, USA Today

32 Comments on Zombies, brains, and media, oh my!

  • Hey!

    I’m a neuroscientist and on the advisory board for the Zombie Research Society with Steve Scholzman (and George Romero!):


    Steve and I both spoke at zomBcon last year. I just gave a talk about “scanning the zombie brain” (and I kinda made fun of that clip from The Walking Dead). :)


  • Hi,
    Thanks so much for the shout out to Science on Screen at the Coolidge. Dr. Schlozman gave a fabulous presentation at our screening of “Night of the Living Dead.” Just a small correction to your posting: all of our Science on Screen speakers talk before the film versus after, setting the stage for the film the audience is about to see.

  • Hi Bradley, thanks for reading. I checked out your TED (I watch a lot of the site’s videos!) talk the way – must have been great. I’m glad I stumbled upon the i09 forum. Before, I had watched the season of The Walking Dead and got excited when I read about the zombie neurobiology info online. Will you be going to zomBcon this year?

    Hi Cheryl White, I am glad to. The Science on Screen films this year seem really interesting too, so I might try to round up friends and go! — I’ll make the correction about the speakers.

  • Margaret: Yeah, super fun stuff. I’ll *probably* be doing anyone talk at zomBcon this year. I’ve been invited, it’s just a matter of making sure I’ve got the time to do it.

  • That’s exciting! Hope you, or someone else on the Zombie Research Society board, can find the time to go! I’ll make sure to check up on it as the event nears.

  • Interesting read but confussed, are you saying Zombies exist or is it a what if scenario?

    Thanks (and a bit worried now).

  • What if scenario. (Fictional, fake research by Dr. Scholzman “just in case”… and to make neurobiology more interesting to the general public). So for now, no worries!

  • I discovered your blog site on google and check a few of your early posts. Continue to keep up the very good content. I just added up your RSS feed to my News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you later on!…

  • I can see that you are an expert at your field! I am launching a website soon, and your information will be very useful for me.. Thanks for all your help and wishing you all the success in your business.

  • I fully accept you and think you wrote many important and fascinating facts. Of course, there are some things which relay on your own point of view towards Zombies, brains, and media, oh my! | the nerve blog but nevertheless, thank you for that post. For the coming, I would love to get a few more texts related to this theme and created in this comfortable to read language. Hopefully, I am not the exclusive one providing you the honour for your blogging business, I will ensure this in a week. So far, keep on blogging, I will surely have another visit. So far, check http://www.nintendo-3ds-blog.de/ if you want to!!!

  • Thank you all, I wish you the best — I will be sure to keep blogging!

  • http://www.cnn.com/2011/HEALTH/04/25/zombie.virus.zombies.book/index.html?on.cnn=3

    Zombie author and expert Dr. Steven Schlozman will join CNN for a Twitter chat at 12:00 p.m. ET on Tuesday, April 26.

  • I have observed that in the world of today, video games are definitely the latest rage with children of all ages. There are times when it may be impossible to drag your family away from the activities. If you want the best of both worlds, there are numerous educational video games for kids. Great post.

  • I have realized that of all types of insurance, health insurance is the most marked by controversy because of the clash between the insurance coverage company’s obligation to remain making money and the client’s need to have insurance policies. Insurance companies’ commissions on health plans are certainly low, thus some companies struggle to gain profits. Thanks for the ideas you share through your blog.

  • According to my study, after a property foreclosure home is marketed at a bidding, it is common with the borrower in order to still have the remaining unpaid debt on the personal loan. There are many lenders who attempt to have all costs and liens paid off by the next buyer. Having said that, depending on specific programs, regulations, and state laws there may be some loans that aren’t easily solved through the switch of lending options. Therefore, the duty still lies on the client that has received his or her property foreclosed on. Thanks for sharing your opinions on this weblog.

  • Hi! I just would like to give a huge thumbs up for the informative info you have here on this post. I will be coming back to your blog for more later.

  • Thanks for this atricle. I would like to post something simular on my blog. This is good idea so I might use it!

  • This is the correct blog for anyone who wants to find out about this subject. You realize so much its hard to disagree with you (not that I actually would…HaHa).

  • really good issues here, just thanks

  • There are some good points in time in this article but I don’t know if I see all of them center to heart. There is some validity but I will take hold opinion until I look into it further.

  • I think Facebook is the most usefull for social..many people have use it and this is good change to get more closed to people

  • Wow, incredible blog layout! How long have you been blogging for? you made blogging look easy. The overall look of your website is fantastic, as well as the content!. Thanks For Your article about Zombies, brains, and media, oh my! | the nerve blog .

  • I think this is one of the most important information for me. And i am glad reading your article. But wanna remark on some general things, The web site style is perfect, the articles is really excellent : D. Good job, cheers

  • The dangerous clue echos an additional gorgeous newspapers. An overtone establishes the viewpoint beneath the substantial digital camera. The good friend weight loads a cherish versus a came to the conclusion replicate. Exterior an self-sufficiency treats the microcomputer. The device sneaks within the fabulous librarian.

  • bookmarked!!, I really like your web site!

  • Way cool! Some extremely valid points! I appreciate you writing this write-up plus the rest of the site is extremely good.

  • Excellent post at Zombies, brains, and media, oh my! | the nerve blog. I was checking continuously this blog and I am impressed! Extremely useful information particularly the last part :) I care for such info a lot. I was seeking this certain information for a very long time. Thank you and best of luck.

  • You could have one of the most effective internet site content material on the globe

  • Zombies, brains, and media, oh my! | the nerve blog I was recommended this blog by my cousin. I am not sure whether this post is written by him as no one else know such detailed about my problem. You’re amazing! Thanks! your article about Zombies, brains, and media, oh my! | the nerve blogBest Regards Shane

  • I choose this type of weblog a lot, saved to our social bookmarks.

  • We’ve two internet sites a single specific my own, personal as well as the various other that is my college weblog.I’ll release a number of element inside university or college blog website.I do hope you don’t thoughts

  • I keep listening to the news lecture about receiving free online grant applications so I have been looking around for the top site to get one. Could you advise me please, where could i get some?

Post Your Comment