101 Theory Drive: A Neuroscientist's Quest for Memory
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101 Theory Drive: A Neuroscientist's Quest for Memory

3.68 of 5 stars 3.68  ·  rating details  ·  119 ratings  ·  29 reviews
An obsessive scientist and his eclectic team of researchers race to discover one of the hidden treasures of neuroscience—the physical makeup of memory—and in the process pursue a pharmaceutical wonder drug.
Gary Lynch is the real thing, the epitome of the rebel scientist: malnourished, contentious, inspiring, explosive, remarkably ambitious, and consistently brilliant. He i...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published April 6th 2010 by Pantheon (first published January 1st 2010)
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Sep 23, 2010 rabbitprincess rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: well-informed laymen, those with specialized interest in the field
Recommended to rabbitprincess by: Bookmarks Magazine

An illuminating look at one scientist's decades-long quest to find the actual physical indication of memory in the brain. It's written relatively clearly, but you have to sit down with it for extended periods of time if you want to engage the theta rhythm and activate long-term potentiation (LTP), both of which are discussed in this book, thereby retaining what you learn from its pages.

The titular neuroscientist, Gary Lynch, is a colourful character. He came to neuroscience from a completely dif...more
This was a fascinating biography of an unusual scientist, Gary Lynch. I happen to know a few neuroscientists and the most curious things about reading this was how much certain portions of his personality reminded me of them and how none of them had ever heard of him. The latter is odd because if this book is to be believed, Lynch is perhaps the greatest neuroscientist of our times (easier to say if you consider his arch-nemesis (not really) Eric Kandel to be of a previous time, which he kind of...more
Bookmarks Magazine
Though 101 Theory Drive covers a significantly different terrain from that in McDermott's 2005 account of the 9/11 hijackers, the critics proclaimed his latest book a riveting "joy ride" (Oregonian)--a rollicking behind-the-scenes tour of modern science, including its egos, contentious debates, funding disasters, and extraordinary advancements. The story centers on science, and McDermott, with his crisp prose and clear explanations, skillfully guides readers through this technical but always enj...more
Interesting book. Accessible for a non-scientist, but not always easy reading: it takes some concentration sometimes to understand the scientific concepts. The "main character" is definitely a character: a sometimes renegade scientist who goes his own way, bound and determined to find something he is sure is there, when everyone else in the scientific community thinks he's crazy. But 30 years of dogged determination pay off, and he makes some significant finds. The author does a great job bringi...more
Absolutely engaging book about one scientist's 30 year quest (and counting) to understand how the brain forms memories. This is a great book not only on this particular subject, but a great primer on how scientific discoveries in general are made: step by gradual step. It shows how tedious day to day experiments can be, but also how necessary it is in order to benefit from the slow build up of the accumulated knowledge.

As well, the book shows how much is unknown when it comes to the brain and th...more
Paul Hudson
How does memory work? Follow a rock star of sorts in the field. A really fun read that puts you in the middle of Research Laboratory work/life over many years. This book coherently keeps the thread going, never revealing too much, but always peaking the reader's interest. You learn gaining traction in research isn't always about the best idea or even solid results... it becomes very political. Push boundaries, but you can't go too far or you're crazy. Collaborate to some degree but compete to be...more
This was great for insights into both neural biology and the structures of memory in mammalian brains, and also into the real-world politics of western science... its strengths and some shockingly petty weaknesses.

If you like your science stories with plenty of vernacular of the Anglo-Saxon variety (seems to have had a quota for the word fuck), then this is the book for you.

Actually, I do recommend it. It's one of those things that is a little surprising to realize how little we know about the m...more
Sabin Serban
The fact that I did not have any knowledge of the biology or chemistry of the brain beyond what I learned in high-school (if that), I found it an interesting and informing book. The book presents neuroscience, its research paradigms and follows the work of Gary Lynch through almost 50 years of research and a one-sided quest to discover the mechanics of memory.
The information is valuable beyond doubt, but I found the author's style at times a bit overly-dramatic. However, I now believe that the c...more
Wonderful science writing, excellent descriptions and use of humor. This isn't a book to listen to while doing something else -- it needs your full attention. I kept wanting to take notes!
Great primer for the novice and great review for the experienced -- especially those who find themselves teaching complicated neuro science in lay terms.
It is also an up-close-and-personal look at the difficulties of bio-research, the FDA and the personalities involved in neuro-reseach. Well written, well narra...more
Sep 17, 2012 Melissa rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Melissa by: Bookmarks Magazine
So I understood maybe 1/10th of the science, but after the first chapter, "understanding the science" was no longer my priority--which instead became compulsively devouring the 3-decade-plus story of what it's like to work week in and week out in the same lab on the same problem, trying to stay on the cutting edge of research while the scientific and academic and corporate worlds are all whirling around you. Excellent. And if you have any interest in cognition, memory, and the brain, the science...more
Donald Plugge

An insight into Gary Lynch's search for memory or the correlates of memory or "The Thing Itself" or the "N Gram". McDermott does his own scientific investigation of a scientific investigator. He actually joins the neurological lab run by Gary Lynch and shadows his day to day hunt for memory.

Read this and the book "On Intelligence" by Jeff Hawkins and you'll have a good layman's overview of the neurology of the brain. A good on-going source of current neurological ideas is the http://www.brainsci...more
I gave this 5 stars because i think it's a great recommendation for people interested in neuroscience. McDermott tracks Gary Lyynch's researach journey of 30 years trying to nail down LTP. But what I found most eyeopening were the insights into the science/industry of neuroscience. I also learned how imprecise the science of interpreting the meaning of laboratory findings. Overall, it gave me a much better perspective on interpreting the almost weekly "new discoveries" in the field(s) of neurosc...more
What a remarkably engaging book! McDermott would be a perfect ghost writer for pop-science literature: he manages to make complex topics accessible without "dumbing down" the information. He also has a wonderful way with words and succeeds marvelously at presenting the people, process, and problems behind scientific research; his colorful depiction of Gary Lynch is an exercise in brutally honest and sympathy-inducing storytelling. A great quick, yet engaging read.
Not being a scientist, or specifically a neuro-scientist, parts of this book got very dense in the descriptions of the processes in the brain of how memory happens, or at least the experiments to study it. There was a lot of interesting aspects of this book - some of the people in Lynch's lab and some of the broader aspects of the research - that kept me moving forward in spite of the detailed areas that seemed to drag on at points.
Interesting book. Part overview of one specific part of brain science - memory - and a variety of things associated with that (olfactory sense, theta rhythms, evolution and laboratory testing). Part biography of one scientists quest to nail down the biology of memory. We don't know enough about the brain - it's great to read about somebody trying to change that!
This book reminded me a lot of the Emperor of Scent: a scientist on an ambitious quest to understand how human senses and basic processes work. Both the discoveries and how they were pursued were interesting.
Sally Anne
Highly recommended book about neurobiology and neurobiochemistry. A little bit too much about personality for my taste, but interesting if you are unclear about the research and drug development fields.
101 Theory Drive tells the story of Gary Lynch and his quest to solve the mystery of memory mapping. It's an entertaining tale that is as much about the personalities as the science.
This book chronicles one neuroscientist and his quest for what memory is in neuro-biological terms. The language was a very strong when the author quotes the main subject.
Mediocre writing, fascinating subject. I suspect substantial parts of the book are just pasted together articles McDermott wrote for his paper.
Really awesome stuff about neurology and the molecular basis of memory and cognition. I don't think a biology background is needed to enjoy it.
Delightful read, combining both personal and scientific narration. Helpful bibliography for further reading into the subject of memory.
For my LJ review check out the following:

LJ Xpress Reviews
Just couldn't understand it easily enough to enjoy it. Also quite full of profanity, so, oh well!
Joel Weinert
Wonderful story of a quirky scientist searching for the roots of memory.
Was surprised by the low ratings. Really enjoyed McDermott's prose style.
Bio + lab. situations and interactions + bits. of neuroscience.
Aimless, but ultimately entertaining.
Jul 30, 2011 Wolfie added it
Fascinating book about memory research.
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Terry McDermott is the author of Perfect Soldiers (HarperCollins, 2005), and 101 Theory Drive (Pantheon, 2010). His work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Smithsonian, Columbia Journalism Review, the Los Angeles Times Magazine and Pacific Magazine. McDermott worked at eight newspapers for more than thirty years, most recently for ten years at the Los Angeles Times, where he was a national corres...more
More about Terry McDermott...
The Hunt for KSM: Inside the Pursuit and Takedown of the Real 9/11 Mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed Perfect Soldiers: The Hijackers: Who They Were, Why They Did It Hunt for Ksm, The: Inside the Pursuit and Takedown of the Real 9/11 MasterMind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed Perfect Soldiers Tales of the Carnivorous Duck:A Collection of Stories and Poems

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