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

4.09 of 5 stars 4.09  ·  rating details  ·  1,528 ratings  ·  115 reviews
"A stunning book."—Oliver Sacks

Charting the intellectual history of the emerging biology of mind, Eric R. Kandel illuminates how behavioral psychology, cognitive psychology, neuroscience, and molecular biology have converged into a powerful new science of mind. This science now provides nuanced insights into normal mental functioning and disease, and simultaneously opens p...more
Paperback, 510 pages
Published March 19th 2007 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 2006)
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Lewis Weinstein
I'm taking a course at Oxford this summer on "The Brain and the Senses." So this is a little extra homework. The idea of memory, where thoughts come from, etc., is fascinating to me.

And, many years ago, before I was there, Kandel had his laboratory at the Public Health Research Institute, of which I was later CEO.

I'll post more when I get into it.

I HAVE NOW COMPLETED BOTH THE COURSE AND KANDEL'S BOOK.

BOTH WERE TERRIFIC!

The course, offered by Oxford tutor Gillie McNeill, combined descriptions o...more
Gerald
I'm really enjoying this book so far, especially as I'm considering a career in neuroscience research. Kandel's memoirs are both personal and historical. Reading about Kandel's personal growth to eventually become one of the leading scientists of the field has given me much opportunity to reflect on my own career goals. Also learning about the historical development of neuroscience as a discipline has been an interesting to the field as well (and much lighter to read than Principles of Neuroscie...more
Mag
A unique blend of memoir and science describing Kandel’s (Nobel prize winner for Physiology or Medicine in 2000) quest for memory both at the personal and scientific level.
Kandel, a 9 year old Jew in Vienna in 1938, starts his book with his memories of Anschluss and Kristallnacht, describes the vividness of these memories and how years later they made him interested in why and how certain memories are remembered while others are lost. Throughout his career, he tackled brain and memory research...more
Piotr
Oct 05, 2007 Piotr rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: anyone stuck on a 12 hour flight
One of the biggest questions plaguing behavioral biologists during the 20th century was the localization of the engram, or, a memory trace in the brain. Well, most of them who weren't dualists were looking in the brain. One of the most thorough studies of engram localization was performed by Karl Lashley, who spent a good chunk of his career doing cortical lesions on rodents and primates. he sums up his (mostly) negative results with this quote:

"I sometimes feel, in reviewing the evidence on the...more
Morgan Blackledge
Warning: this book can be a little dull in the autobiographical sections (which you are free to skim), and a bit challenging in some of the technical parts (particularly if you are new to the nuts and bolts of cognitive neuroscience). But if you're a cognitive neuroscience dork (like me) and you love reading about the history of science (like me), and if you are reading this book on an e-reader, so you can pop back and forth between the text and web based resources e.g. Wikipedia etc. (like me),...more
Pat
A very readable science book for the layperson, explaining the basic neuroscience of memory. The author, a Nobel-prize-winning neuroscientist, weaves three threads together: a memoir about his own life, the history of thought and research on the workings of the brain, and an account of his own research into the biochemistry and physiology of memory formation. It's a tribute to the author's lucidity that I--whose 10th-grade biology class was 40 years ago now--was able to understand a lot of compl...more
Ashvin
I'll be honest, I didn't finish it, and I likely won't any time soon. But, I wanted to say a few things about it in case anyone else was interested.

Kandel does a fantastic job of explaining the neurobiology of learning and memory to the layman. He makes it understandable without dumbing it down. If you're interested in that, read this book. This guy is one of the greats. He has a noble prize and co-wrote Principles of Neural Science, the standard neuroscience book that every neuroscientist has....more
Dia
Kandel begins and ends his memoir/neuroscience primer with bold declarations of faith, that consciousness itself, as well as (and of perhaps even greater import) the unconscious processes deduced by psychoanalytic investigations, can be accounted for entirely via molecular and cellular activities. The book is therefore a great education and challenge for those who are interested in the problems and possibilities of reductionism. Kandel's work, for which he won a Nobel prize, shows that the simpl...more
Biser Hong
Kandel has created a narrative that fuses his own scientific development and interests with the broader historical and landmark developments in neuroscience. He gradually focuses in on his own expanding research to present his own findings on memory and learning along with other related work. I found the book incredibly clearly written and his explanation of tricky scientific ideas very approachable.
The autobiographical sections can be a bit unexciting but his interests in art and psychoanalysi...more
Nancy
What can say? This book is a great book for anyone at all interested in Neuroscience. Fascinating discoveries on why some memories are stronger than others. This information has allowed me to realize that I can control how strongly I feel about things that happened in the past by simply not revisiting the memory. With time the strength of the memories will fade.

worth reading.
Biogeek
Nov 11, 2011 Biogeek rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Biogeek by: Sharon
An absolutely brilliant book from a brilliant mind. Kandel's writing flows off the page and is so easy to follow, even as he delves into some pretty intricate physiology, but always with some personal stories. Humorous and human, this is how science should be written. Am loving it so far.
Kelly Peters
I read this for a brain science and pedagogy. It was a wealth of information on the brain. Absolutely fascinating, yet had to reread some sections because it was hard for me to comprehend. The best part is how he intertwined his life story into his studies of the brain. Fascinating!
Smoens
This book is more than just the biography of an extraordinary talented and intelligent man. It's a book embedded in history, a history of Austria, a history of science ranging from psychology, psychoanalysis and medicine to work in the field which lead him to win the Nobel Prize, i.e. molecular biology.

This makes the book an interesting read for a lot of people, not only people interested in neuroscience or biology. It feels like peeking into the mind of a genius. Joining him in his journey, fee...more
Carol
Kandel covers his memory from his family's escaping the Holocaust from Vienna to the United States when he was 10 years old on through his current research as a neuroscientist par excellence. Why and how did his memory work to code life's experiences. He molds his narration of bioneurological research of the simple cellular response to stimuli of snails to today's research of the unconscious versus conscious brain activity. The synaptic energy of cells gets way beyond my capabilities but his dis...more
Avempace
I first became familiar with the work of Eric Kandel in the late 1990s. At the time, my own research veered into the subject of learning and memory, occasioned by the derivation by my research group of mice with genetic alterations affecting long-term memory. The approaches that we followed in those studies mirrored those pioneered by the Kandel group, and I spent many long hours back then pouring over the elegant research papers written by Kandel and his colleagues. From reading reviews and mon...more
Derek Davis
This is a superb study of the science of mind as well as a superb study of Kandel as a human being. It traces his progress from a child escaping the Holocaust to his Nobel Prize in medicine and physiology, and beyond. Starting out in psychiatry, he switched to being a research scientist who followed his own intuitions, rather than professional advice, to slowly unfold the secrets of how memories are formed in the neural system, first in a sea snail, then in mice, finally in humans. Though the pr...more
Nemo
A Good Mystery Novel

Kandel tells the story of how fascination with memory has led him to a life-long search for the biological underpinning of memory and consciousness. It's part autobiography and part textbook, but reads like a good mystery novel. I could hardly put it down until I finished it. His writing is very fluid and concise, and he inserts figures at just the right junctures to illustrate and summarize the concepts. I learned many things in several fields that fascinate me, psychoanalys...more
Igor
An amazing journey through the evolution of thought of one of the great movers of neuroscience in the 20th century. Kandel's interest in the mind first brought him into Freudian psychoanalysis, before becoming disillusioned by its dualism and lack of scientific inquiry - the belief that studying neuron physiology could not reveal anything about the emergent properties of the mind.

Kandel recounts his own personal journey that led him to studying memory and learning through seeking neural correlat...more
Dave
Eric Kandel explains the basics of neural signaling through this autobiographical narrative. While I can't pretend that I didn't know that there would be some discussion of his own personal stuff, I didn't realize just how much of the book would be dedicated to his life as a Holocaust survivor. I'm sorry if it seems that I'm unfairly trivializing something serious, but his Holocaust survival experience consisted of being forced by Nazis to stay with some neighbors for a week and then promptly be...more
Mark
This is one of those rare books that does a great job of combining personal memoir with scientific explanations. The author experienced first hand the groundbreaking discoveries about brain function over the last 50+ years, and as a Nobel Prize winner for physiology/medicine he was a major player as well. With this perspective, he traces the scientific questions about the brain as they evolved over his career.

The author talks about many of the scientists and their methods in making these importa...more
Hasham Ahmad
This book is part autobiography and part essay on the emergence of a new kind of science of mind and the authors involvement in it from his youth through to his Nobel award and beyond. At first it seems a bit vague as the reader wanders through Austrian involvement in second world war antisemitism but soon some insights into the mechanism of the brain emerge. It is rewarding to learn how synapses and neurons function and grow in the brain in response to stimuli and how this leads to the search f...more
John Orman
A good review of what we know of brain and mind, plus quite a memoir of a Nobel Prize winner's lifetime of research about those subjects.

Kandel's professional life has been at the frontier of brain science, popularizing the "molecular biological approach" to the learning process.

There is a considerable discussion of advanced biotechnology. At least now I know what the big Genentech plant down the street from me does--commercializing genetically engineered proteins for medical purposes, often usi...more
Nathan B
To start to learn about memory, I highly recommend this book!

No matter what one's occupation, the subject of memory is something that impacts us all. This book really helps in exploring the vital aspects of this "new science." Basically, Kandel conveys to the lay reader an understanding of how one conceptualizes coupled with a basic understanding of how memory takes place. It also lays the foundation for a belief about how learning occurs.

Some of the basic theories of the subject of memory might...more
Sarah
This is half a memoir, half a book on the biological basis of cognition, and I dove into it enthusiastically. Unfortunately, there's easily enough material in here for two books, one for the personal aspects and one for the science. I burned out halfway through Kandel's career, and couldn't muster the enthusiasm to finish the final hundred-odd pages before it was due back at the library.

Still, I'll keep an eye out for a used copy, because the subject is fascinating indeed: how does one study the...more
Suman
Superb book on the brain. In Search of Memory is an autobiography of Nobel Prize winner Eric Kandel about his life and research. He mixes scientific description with more normal life and is a thoroughly enjoyable read. What interested me the most was how Kandel approached his Nobel Prize winning research about unconscious learning; he drilled down to the most minute details (prestige of scientific methods be damned) until he found the biological mechanism for unconscious learning. Later in life,...more
Jeptha Davenport
This is as extensive an account as I've come across of how a scientist chooses his career path, with extensive personal detail, and how particular models of study suit the particular questions to be answered -- it seems so straightforward in retrospect that I have to wonder whether the clarity was present in foresight as well as hindsight, but in either case, it is obvious that genius has been at work. The author is a charming man in person, and he has put charm in this autobiography well. His N...more
sillopillo
Linguaggio semplice e argomenti interessanti.
Con un linguaggio semplice e coinvolgente il libro parla della vita di Eric Kandel intrecciando la vita famigliare a quella professionale. Il lettore e' partecipe sia nelle decisioni che l'autore prende nel corso della vita che nelle varie ricerche e scoperte legate ai meccanismi della memoria che gli sono valsi il Nobel.
La cosa rimarchevole e che nonostante la peculiarità delle scoperte effettuate lo stile e il livello rimane sempre comprensibile e f...more
Candice
This book was surprisingly great. It ended up being so much more than what I was expecting. The book is part autobiography, part history of science, and part neural science textbook. Kandel's life story is fairly intersting. I found his description of how the new science of the mind developed in the 20th century utterly fascinating. He illustrates how scientific discoveries can be made through creativity, passion, and collaberation. The author has such a love of science and research that you can...more
Darcy
I learned a LOT from this book, and I read parts of it multiple times. I was mostly in it for the explanations of some of the important neurological discoveries and less for the memoir aspect, which was appropriate because the memoir aspect wasn't as heavily weighted or written with as much heart, or at least that's how it felt to me. I'd recommend it if you're interested in thinking about some neuroscience basics (like how neurons fire and what could be controlling their behavior from the insid...more
Eva
Kandel tells his life story, researching the mechanisms in the brain that enable us to memorize. There is a lot of detail on the chemical activities in the neuron. Thorough enough that it might just stay in my memory.

But he also gives us the portrait of the life of a scientist, how he picked his research topic, his decision to change career, how important collaborations are. The journey is interesting as his career spanned over quite substantial changes in the relationship between neuroscience...more
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Eric R. Kandel is an American neuropsychiatrist who was a recipient of the 2000 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his research on the physiological basis of memory storage in neurons. He shared the prize with Arvid Carlsson and Paul Greengard.

Kandel, who had studied psychoanalysis, wanted to understand how memory works. His mentor, Harry Grundfest, said, “If you want to understand the brai...more
More about Eric Kandel...
The Age of Insight: The Quest to Understand the Unconscious in Art, Mind, and Brain from Vienna 1900 to the Present Principles of Neural Science Psychiatry, Psychoanalysis, and the New Biology of Mind Essentials of Neural Science and Behavior Molecular Neurobiology in Neurology and Psychiatry (Research Publications (Association for Research in Nervous and Mental Disease))

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