Lewis Weinstein's Reviews > In Search of Memory: The Emergence of a New Science of Mind

In Search of Memory by Eric Kandel
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Aug 05, 12

bookshelves: non-fiction
Read in July, 2012

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 of sensory processes with an explanation of the underlying molecular activity that integrates the incoming perceptions and what's already in memory to create a coherent narrative.

We started by eating a cracker and considering what was involved in our individual perceptions of that event ... taste, smell, sight, feel, sound, and memory of crackers and herbs previously ingested. Quite a bit for the first few minutes of the course.

Kandel’s book offers enchanting glimpses of his life story, the history of brain psychology and science, and a description of the experiments (of Kandel and others) which are moving our understanding of the brain forward at an incredible pace while also revealing just how little we still know.

Kandel’s decision, early in his career, to begin his life’s work with the study of a single cell, set the stage for the way he approached his work. He decided to study the giant marine snail Aplysia as his first means to understand how information was brought into a cell and transferred out to another cell. Learn how that happens, multiply by tens of billions, and you have a working human brain.

These quotes may communicate the excitement of Kandel’s journey (which by the way led to a Nobel prize)...

“the realization that the workings of the brain - the ability not only to perceive but to think, learn, and store information - may occur through chemical as well as electrical signals expanded the appeal of brain science from anatomists and electro-physiologists to biochemists.”

“I was testing the idea that the cellular mechanisms underlying learning and memory are likely to have been conserved through evolution and therefore to be found in simple animals.”

“We pointed out the importance of discovering what actually goes on at the level of the synapse (the place where signals are passed from one cell to another) when behavior is modified by learning.”

This last quote is almost a synopsis of what the course at the Oxford Experience was about.

It turns out that there is considerable growth and change in the brain connections and that this goes on all the time.

Your brain has changed since you started reading this review.
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Kyle (new)

Kyle Wonder if the Oxford course has any connection to a recent symposium at the London Globe on the senses in Renaissance literature. Very curious to see what further posts reveal. Seems like "sense" is causing a sensation in scholarly circles!


message 2: by Karen (new)

Karen Hi Lewis - have a grand time in England. I'm envious !


message 3: by Danial (new) - added it

Danial Can some body provide me with this book, i cant buy this book by want to read it out.


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