Synopses & Reviews
In Search of Memory relates the astonishing story of how four different and distinct disciplines: behaviorist psychology, cognitive psychology, neuroscience, and molecular biology, converged into a powerful new science of mind. Through its profound insights into thought, perception, action, recollection, and mental illness, this new science is revolutionizing our understanding of learning and memory while simultaneously showing great promise for more effective healing. The narrative follows Eric R. Kandel through the last five decades, focusing on Vienna, where he became fascinated with memory. With intrepid scientific ardor, Kandel was captivated first by history and psychoanalysis, then by neurobiology, and finally by the biological processes of memory. His resulting, multifaceted perspective was the foundation for his path-breaking research that will continue to dominate modern thought: not only in science but in culture at large.
"When, as a medical student in the 1950s, Kandel said he wanted to locate the ego and id in the brain, his mentor told him he was overreaching, that the brain had to be studied 'cell by cell.' After his initial dismay, Kandel took on the challenge and in 2000 was awarded a Nobel Prize for his groundbreaking research showing how memory is encoded in the brain's neuronal circuits. Kandel's journey into the brain spans five decades, beginning in the era of early research into the role of electrical currents flowing through neurons and ending in the age of genetic engineering. It took him from early studies of reflexes in the lowly squid to the founding of a bioengineering firm whose work could some day develop treatments for Alzheimer's and on to a rudimentary understanding of the cellular mechanisms underlying mental illness. Kandel's life also took him on another journey: from Vienna, which his Jewish family fled after the Anschluss, to New York City and, decades later, on visits back to Vienna, where he boldly confronted Austria's unwillingness to look at its collusion in the Final Solution. For anyone considering a career in science, the early part of this intellectual autobiography presents a fascinating portrait of a scientist's formation: learning to trust his instincts on what research to pursue and how to pose a researchable question and formulate an experiment. Much of the science discussion is too dense for the average reader. But for anyone interested in the relationship between the mind and the brain, this is an important account of a creative and highly fruitful career. 50 b&w illus." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Kandel relates the astonishing story of how four different and distinct disciplines--behaviorist psychology, cognitive psychology, neuroscience, and molecular biology--converged into a powerful new science of mind.