- Paperback: 528 pages
- Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (March 17, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780393329377
- ISBN-13: 978-0393329377
- ASIN: 0393329372
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.3 x 8.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 149 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #50,975 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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In Search of Memory: The Emergence of a New Science of Mind 1st Edition
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“A scrupulously detailed yet magnificently panoramic autobiography.”
- Sherwin B. Nuland, New York Times Book Review
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“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
About the Author
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.
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As a Jew who was chased out of Vienna as a child, Kandel also details the Austrian embrace of the Nazis, their purge of the Jews, and the inability of post war Austria to acknowledge its dominant role in the holocaust (following annexation, Austrians made up about 8 percent of the population of the greater reich, yet they held most of the key positions and accounted for more than 30 percent of the officials working to eliminate the Jews).
Unless you are already conversant in the biology of neurology, parts of this book will be at times a very slow read, but one well worth the investment. Besides the science, you will also get a comprehensive look and appreciation for virtually all the other key players in neuroscience. The writing is extraordinarily. Kandel does a masterful job of explaining neuroscience in a way that anyone can understand. The biographical and historical elements are equally engrossing. If I could, I would give this book 10 stars on Amazon.
In the first section the author describes his childhood in Vienna with the Nazi invasion and the persecution he and his family faced- he describes the hardships faced and the journey taken to go to the US. In this section the stage is set to pose the questions about how memory works. In particular, how memories can be so clear so far from the date of experience in certain situations and where this permanence is formed and stored is pondered. Though few can empathize with the author's experience all can sympathize with the questions about the basis for memory.
The author works chronologically and goes through his early history working with biological and neurological questions. Practical neuroscience and biological problems are considered and so is the authors journey that took him to study the right system to consider memory. The author throughout the book makes it a point to argue that finding the right simple system to analyze that can give broader implication is at the heart of putting oneself in a position to make progress. The author settled on the sea slug Aplysia. So too are discussed were the experience of the author in first monitoring of action potentials in the squid nervous system. A creature with nerve cells relatively easy to monitor.
The author moves onto trying to monitor change in the nervous system after becoming comfortable with the Aplysia's biology. Reflex behaviour is studied and the monitoring of nerve cells is examined when presented with various stimulus. The chemical reactions that take place within the cell and the neurotransmitters that are associated are discussed and in particular the mechanics of short term memory adaptation and implication to behaviour are discussed in detail through the results of experiments done. The author continues on to pose questions about long term memory and how short term and long term though different, must be associated somehow. The mechanics for this are not understood but insight is provided by the author and the subject matter is fascinating.
The author continues in complexity and starts to discuss things like perception and spacial awareness. Spacial awareness is definitely an arena to explore how memory works given our spacial awareness and that of most creatures is a function of nature in initial architecture as well as environment which determines how the memory implicit in a mental map is formed. This process is being explored in current science and the idea of paying attention is also discussed.
The author moves on to modern biomedical progress and how understanding memory processes in mice has provided a means to develop insight and treatment into memory related diseases. The author discusses how biology is an incredibly important part for the future of psychiatry. In particular the rigour of science should be applied to psychiatry to get an objective measure of results. Interaction of people is shown to be very important for developement and treatment is not chemistry when it comes to social disorders and mental disorders like depression and schizophrenia. The author also walks through some of his thoughts on the collaboration of the private and public sector in the field of pharmaceuticals.
The author concludes with his receiving of the Nobel prize. It is a return to the autobiographical aspect of the book and the author describes how he revisited Vienna and some of the discourse engaged in while there. It is a reasonable end to an otherwise fascinating and informative book.