Seth K. Sharpless, III, PhD (1925-2017)
Stimulation of brain reward centers, habituation in the mammalian brain, effects of drugs of abuse on the nervous system, denervation supersensitivity, sedative hypnotics
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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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|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|