Lawrence Edelstein


Lawrence Edelstein

Spring semester 1974, State University of New York at Stony Brook, “Introduction to Physiological Psychology,” Professor John Stamm (mentor and frontal lobe physiologist par excellence). “Essentials of Physiological Psychology,” by Sebastian P. Grossman. As a significant percentage of our final grade, we were tasked with submitting a term paper on the brain structure of our choosing, to be selected from those mentioned in our textbook. Owing to an already burdensome semester with numerous finals in the air, I immediately went to work looking for that part of the brain to which was paid the least attention, in essence, the Rodney Dangerfield of the CNS. Hippocampus? Fuhgeddaboudit. Amygdala? Fight or flight; I chose the latter. Claustrum - function unknown; barely made the index. Clearly, it got no respect. The seed was planted, eventually sprouting into a doctoral thesis: “The anatomy of the claustrum: A light and electron-microscopic analysis in rat and monkey incorporating the technique of HRP cytochemistry.” I moved to San Diego in late 2001, the claustrum something I once dabbled with in the distant past. Cut to September 27, 2004 and the live-streamed public memorial held at The Salk Institute for Francis Crick. Although I was long into a new career and deskbound at the time, I felt the need to somehow be a part of this event, if only as a virtual observer. Thick with notables, Nobelists (and those to be) and molecular biology, I watched and listened with rapt attention as V.S. Ramachandran took the podium and proceeded to eloquently honor a close friend and esteemed colleague. Somewhere in the middle of his tribute I learned of Francis’ interest in the claustrum, at which point my jaw dropped rather precipitously, and a few choice unmentionables were uttered upon return to its normal position. A comprehensive review paper followed shortly thereafter, co-authored with my long-time friend and fellow claustrophile, Professor Frank Denaro. For some time prior to his passing, Francis Crick, along with his brilliant Caltech colleague-in-arms, Christof Koch, had honed in on the very same slab of grey matter as I did thirty years prior, and found it to be as salient a stimulus, with mysteries yet to be revealed. Nearly forty years on, I’m still working on that term paper. However, thanks to Francis, Christof, my fortuitously catching that live-stream, and subsequently befriending my esteemed UCSD colleagues John Smythies and Rama, I can safely say that I chose wisely. And the title of what was fated to be Francis’ final publication? “What is the function of the claustrum?” Dr. Edelstein is the Editor-in-Chief of Claustrum, a peer-reviewed, open access journal, conceived as a nexus for all things pertaining to the claustrum. For more info, visit

Affiliations and Expertise

Medimark Corporation, Del Mar, CA