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Eric Kandel Describes Quest to Understand Memory

Understanding the human mind is one of the greatest scientific challenges of our time. In his latest book, ”In Search of Memory: The Emergence of the New Science of Mind,” [W.W. Norton & Company], Eric Kandel, M.D., University Professor and Kavli Professor of Brain
Eric Kandel
Science at Columbia University, and Senior Research Scientist at the Howard Hughes Medical Research Institute, relates the story of how several disciplines – psychology, neurosciences and molecular biology – have converged to develop a powerful new science of the mind. Through its insights into perception, thought, action, learning and memory, this science is revolutionizing our understanding of ourselves and of disorders of the brain such as mental retardation, autism, mental illness and Alzheimer’s disease and holds great promise for more effective treatment and healing.

Dr. Kandel also writes about his early life in his birthplace, Vienna, where he became fascinated with the concept of memory, and his later life in America. Over the past five decades, Dr. Kandel has been captivated by history, psychoanalysis and psychiatry, neurobiology, and finally by the biological processes of memory. Dr. Kandel became the first American psychiatrist to win the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 2000 for his seminal work with the sea slug, Aplysia, in which he discovered how memory is stored.

Kandel Lab Creates Mouse Model With Schizophrenia Characteristics

An animal model to mimic some of the cognitive characteristics of schizophrenia has been created by researchers in Dr. Eric Kandel’s lab and may help researchers develop new therapies for memory deficits experienced by people with schizophrenia. Today’s therapies sometimes help with hallucinations and delusions but only have modest effects on cognitive symptoms.

In a report published in the Feb. 16 issue of Neuron, the researchers used the genetically engineered mouse to propose that increased activity of dopamine receptors in the brain’s striatum may be linked to the disease’s cognitive deficits, such as poor working memory.
The findings also suggest that therapies for cognitive symptoms may not be beneficial because they are given too late.