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Driven to study Aplysia by a sense of adventure


An exceptionally rewarding year
Eric Kandel Scientist
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That was an exceptionally rewarding year, because it really outlined for me what the task ahead was. And that was to begin to learn how to work out neural circuitry in Aplysia, and look at behavior in the whole animal, and work out the neural circuitry of behavior. And that's the task I'd set for myself coming back to the United States.

But in addition, it was a wonderful year for Denise and myself and Paul in Paris. Denise had been raised in Paris, she knew it quite well. We went to museums, we began to buy art. We had a very nice time. And the French not only take long lunch breaks, which I didn't take, but they take long summer breaks, so we spent five weeks in Marina di Pietrasanta in Italy right near Florence. We had… a babysitter was with us. We went to Florence three times a week and had a fabulous time getting to know the museums and walking around Florence. It was great.

Eric Kandel (b. 1929) is an American neuropsychiatrist. He 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 brain you're going to have to take a reductionist approach, one cell at a time.' Kandel then studied the neural system of the sea slug Aplysia californica, which has large nerve cells amenable to experimental manipulation and is a member of the simplest group of animals known to be capable of learning. Kandel is a professor of biochemistry and biophysics at the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University. He is also Senior Investigator in the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He was the founding director of the Center for Neurobiology and Behavior, which is now the Department of Neuroscience at Columbia University. Kandel's popularized account chronicling his life and research, 'In Search of Memory: The Emergence of a New Science of Mind', was awarded the 2006 Los Angeles Times Book Award for Science and Technology.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is an independent documentary producer who has made a number of films about science and scientists for BBC TV, Channel Four, and PBS.

Tags: Aplysia, Florence

Duration: 1 minute, 14 seconds

Date story recorded: j

Date story went live: 04 May 2016