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What if psychoanalysis were combined with neuroscience?


It takes as much effort to work on a boring problem as an interesting one
Eric Kandel Scientist
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I am not competent to develop methodologies. I've really never developed anything really important methodologically. But I'm not reluctant to use methodologies, new approaches, new techniques, to further my own work. And I do… I have developed a taste for problems. I have a sense when a problem is really important, and that's what I want to work on.

I tell the people in my lab, this is not original with me, that it takes as much effort to work on a boring problem as an interesting one. Why don't we work on an interesting one? And I think as a mentor, my function is to help people develop taste as well as high standards. You know, particularly now, it takes years to get a good paper together to publish it. And the idea that you get a paper out in six months or a year is absurd.

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: methodology, mentor, publishing

Duration: 1 minute, 1 second

Date story recorded: June 2015

Date story went live: 04 May 2016