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How does the brain control memory and consciousness?


The complexities of working on the brain
Francis Crick Scientist
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Well, you must realise the brain is much more complicated than the… the basic molecular biology, although, naturally, when you explore all of the ramifications of it, that gets complicated too. But the brain is inherently more complicated than what… what I was dealing with before and has got very… more ways of approaching it because not only do you have to know about the molecules involved and the nerve cells involved and the way all the nerve cells are connected together and the sort of way they fire and so on, but you’ve also got to know about the relevant bits of psychology and even have some knowledge of what the philosophical points are because otherwise you may be thinking about things in the wrong way. So… so, it covers a very much wider range of disciplines on the one hand, and everything is much more complicated. But what is even worse is, everything is much more in a fog because in almost all these things, we don’t have a… a foundation set of ideas in which we can fit the observations we have and generate new ideas. We haven’t got that yet.

The late Francis Crick, one of Britain's most famous scientists, won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1962. He is best known for his discovery, jointly with James Watson and Maurice Wilkins, of the double helix structure of DNA, though he also made important contributions in understanding the genetic code and was exploring the basis of consciousness in the years leading up to his death in 2004.

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: brain, molecular biology, nerve cell, psychology

Duration: 1 minute, 9 seconds

Date story recorded: 1993

Date story went live: 08 January 2010