Seth K. Sharpless, III, PhD (1925-2017)

1969-1990 Psychology and Neuroscience University of Colorado, Boulder, Boulder, CO, United States 
Stimulation of brain reward centers, habituation in the mammalian brain, effects of drugs of abuse on the nervous system, denervation supersensitivity, sedative hypnotics
"Seth K. Sharpless, III, PhD"

Seth Kinman Sharpless, III (1925-2017), Emeritus Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Colorado, Boulder (1969-1990), passed on August 19, 2017 in his 92nd year.
Dr. Sharpless was a veteran of the U.S. Navy, serving in the Pacific Theater during WWII. After the war’s end Dr. Sharpless served as a Japanese interpreter for the U.S. Military Government of Okinawa.
After leaving the Navy, Seth obtained his master’s degree in Philosophy from the University of Chicago with Professor Rudolf Carnap.
Subsequently he moved to McGill University to work at McGill University with Donald O. Hebb, where he obtained a dual doctoral degree in Philosophy and Psychology. His fellow graduate students in Dr. Hebb's laboratory included James Olds, Brenda and Peter Milner, Ronald Melzack and Helen S. Mahut. While in Hebb’s lab Peter Milner and Seth developed a theory linking activation of the brain’s ascending reticular system to positive reinforcement of behavior. Subsequent studies by this group showed that moving a stimulating electrode to different brain regions either reinforced or inhibited an animal’s maze behavior, and James Olds demonstrated in a landmark study that rats would endlessly press a lever for electrical stimulation of certain areas of their brain, the so-called "reward centers" (Olds, J. & Milner, P. Journal of Comparative and Physiological Psychology. 47 (6): 419–27). Later, as a post doc for Herbert Jasper at The Montreal Institute of Neurology (part of McGill University) they published the seminal study of cellular and behavioral habituation in the mammalian brain (Sharpless, SK, Jasper, HH. Brain, 1956, v. 79, pp. 655-680).
After completing his post-doctoral research, Dr. Sharpless moved to Yale University where he taught psychology (1956-1957). He then relocated to The Albert Einstein College of Medicine (1957-1969) where he taught in the Department of Molecular Pharmacology and collaborated in his research with Murray Jarvik, Jerome H. Jaffee, Matthew J. Friedman and Herbert H. Schaumberg. During this period Seth was also invited to write Sedatives and Hypnotics: The Barbiturates for the 4th Edition (1970) of Goodman and Gilman's Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics.
After moving to Boulder Colorado in 1969, Seth taught a graduate course (Drugs and The Nervous System) in the Psychology & Neuroscience Department, while simultaneously teaching a course in pharmacology at the CU Medical School.
Dr. Sharpless retired from teaching and research in 1990.
From its earliest days after WWII (1948), and throughout the remainder of his life, Seth was an enthusiastic SCUBA diver and traveled to dive-sites around the world.
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Rudolf Carnap grad student 1946-1950 Chicago
 (Obtained MA in Philsophy ( & moved to McGill Institute of Neurology for PhD)
Donald Olding Hebb grad student 1950-1952 McGill
 (Dual PhD in Psychology & Philosophy)
Herbert Henri Jasper post-doc 1952-1956 McGill (Montreal Neuorological Institute)
 (see: Sharpless, S. & Jasper, H., Habituation of the Arousal Response. Brain, v. 79, 1956, pp. 655-680)


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Mark H. Ellisman grad student CU Boulder
Joseph Goldfarb grad student 1967-1969 Albert Einstein School of Medicine
Lawrence J. Ryan grad student 1977-1981 CU Boulder
Barbara Sanders grad student 1977-1982 CU Boulder
Harvey Babkoff post-doc 1967-1969 Albert Einstein


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Helen S. Mahut collaborator 1950-1956 McGill
Ronald Melzack collaborator 1950-1956 McGill
Peter Milner collaborator 1950-1956 McGill
Brenda Milner collaborator 1950-1956 Montreal Neuorological Institute
James Olds collaborator 1950-1956 McGill
Patrick D. Wall collaborator 1956-1957 J. B. Pierce / Yale Medical School
Matthew J. Friedman collaborator 1957-1969 Albert Einstein
Jerome H. Jaffee collaborator 1957-1969 Albert Einstein
Murray Jarvik collaborator 1957-1969 Albert Einstein
Herbert H. Schaumberg collaborator 1957-1969 Albert Einstein
Herman Teitelbaum collaborator 1957-1969 Albert Einstein
Jim Barr collaborator 1969-1981 CU - Boulder
Gerald E. McClearn collaborator 1969-1981 CU - Boulder
Marvin W. Luttges collaborator 1969-1990 CU - Boulder
Kurt Schlesinger collaborator 1969-1990 CU - Boulder
Ronald J. MacGregor collaborator 1973-1990 CU - Boulder
 (Dr. MacGregor was in the CU-Boulder School of Electrical Engineering.)
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SHARPLESS S. (1998) The effects of intravenous epinephrine and norpinephrine on a conditioned response in the cat. Psychopharmacologia. 1: 140-9
Ryan LJ, Barr JE, Sanders B, et al. (1979) Electrophysiological responses to ethanol, pentobarbital, and nicotine in mice genetically selected for differential sensitivity to ethanol. Journal of Comparative and Physiological Psychology. 93: 1035-52
Barr JE, Holmes DB, Ryan LJ, et al. (1979) Techniques for the chronic cannulation of the jugular vein in mice. Pharmacology, Biochemistry, and Behavior. 11: 115-8
Ryan LJ, Sharpless SK. (1979) Genetically determined spontaneous and pentylenetetrazol-induced brief spindle episodes in mice. Experimental Neurology. 66: 493-508
Sanders B, Sharpless SK. (1978) Dissociation between the anticonvulsant action of alcohol and its depressant action in mice of different genotypes. Life Sciences. 23: 2593-9
Sanders B, Sharpless SK, Collins AC, et al. (1978) Activating and anesthetic effects of general depressants. Psychopharmacology. 56: 185-9
Lieff BD, Sharpless SK, Schlesinger K. (1976) Inhibition of acoustic priming in mice. Journal of Comparative and Physiological Psychology. 90: 773-9
Macgregor RJ, Sharpless SK, Luttges MW. (1975) A pressure vessel model for nerve compression. Journal of the Neurological Sciences. 24: 299-304
Lieff BD, Permut A, Schlesinger K, et al. (1975) Developmental changes in auditory evoked potentials in the inferior colliculi of mice during periods of susceptibility to priming. Experimental Neurology. 46: 534-41
Sharpless SK. (1975) Supersensitivity-like phenomena in the central nervous system. Federation Proceedings. 34: 1990-7
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