Eric R. Kandel is Kavli Professor and University Professor at Columbia University and senior investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2000. He lives in New York City.
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.
"A scrupulously detailed yet magnificently panoramic autobiography." -- Sherwin B. Nuland - New York Times Book Review "Arresting-indeed, unforgettable." -- Howard Gardner - Washington Post "An enchanting book." -- Nancy C. Anderson - Science "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." -- Yadin Dudai - Nature "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." -- Times Literary Supplement "[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." -- E.O. Wilson, author of The Diversity of Life "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." -- Elie Wiesel, author of Night
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.