In Search of Memory: The Emergence of a New Science of Mind

Kandel, Eric R.

"A stunning book."--Oliver Sacks Memory binds our mental life together. We are who we are in large part because of what we learn and remember. But how does the brain create memories? Nobel Prize winner Eric R. Kandel intertwines the intellectual history of the powerful new science of the mind--a combination of cognitive psychology, neuroscience, and molecular biology--with his own personal quest to understand memory. A deft mixture of memoir and history, modern biology and behavior, In Search of Memory brings readers from Kandel's childhood in Nazi-occupied Vienna to the forefront of one of the great scientific endeavors of the twentieth century: the search for the biological basis of memory. Editorial Reviews From Barnes & Noble This singular book by Austrian-born Nobel Prize winner Eric Kandel interweaves two strands: First, the narrative of his own life; and second, the story of his breakthrough research on memory. In Search of Memory describes how the findings of several disciplines (behaviorist psychology, cognitive psychology, neuroscience, and molecular biology) converged to form a new science of mind. Sherwin B. Nuland - New York Times Book Review "A scrupulously detailed yet magnificently panoramic autobiography." Howard Gardner - Washington Post "Arresting--indeed, unforgettable." Nancy C. Anderson - Science "An enchanting book." Yadin Dudai - Nature "Few can interlace their autobiography with the evolution of a scientific paradigm. Even fewer can weave such a story seamlessly. Eric Kandel is one of these." Times Literary Supplement "Beyond autobiography, the book is also an accessible introduction to contemporary neuroscience, the study of how the brain produces thought and action. Included are brilliant vignettes on the history of neuroscience." E.O. Wilson "[A] scintillating mix of memoir, history of science, and fundamental biology without peer. It shows compellingly what first-rate science is and how it is created." Elie Wiesel "Written with talent and grace, this extraordinary book by one of the greatest scientists of the mind alive will be read with delight by general readers as well as by students and scholars." Sherwin B. Nuland His is an important and marvelous book. Sigmund Freud and the illustrious cavalcade of pioneering neuroscientists, psychologists and philosophers who have contributed so much to our understanding of the human mind during the past century would look with pleasure on it. -- The New York Times Publishers Weekly 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. (Mar.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information. Library Journal Nobelist Kandel's career mirrors the growth and development of cognitive sciences from the mid to late 20th century to today. From his early attraction to psychoanalysis to the biological mechanisms of the mind itself, Kandel has kept close to the research frontiers. His first-person account thus serves as much as a history of the field as it does an autobiography (indeed, the personal anecdotes are sporadic and almost all intertwined with academic elucidation). What comes through vividly, though, is the passion and enthusiasm of a leading researcher working in intellectually revolutionary times. The "new science of mind" Kandel discusses is both symbolically and mechanistically represented by human memory, which subsumes a person's own logic and values, but at the same time can be studied at the cellular and molecular levels. In keeping with the theme that his own career is a microcosm of the changes in the field, Kandel enthuses that the study of memory not only stimulated a lifetime's worth of personally rewarding work, but commends a similarly rich future to the next generation. Recommended as a first book to read for anybody with a more than merely curious interest in the subject, or as a companion to Daniel Schacter's Searching for Memory or Joseph LeDoux's The Synaptic Self.-Gregg Sapp, Science Lib., SUNY Albany Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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