There’s a great introductory profile of psychiatrist and neurobiologist Eric Kandel in Columbia Magazine that outlines his life and Nobel-prize winning work.
Kandel is best known for his work on how memory operates at the cellular and molecular level.
For example, his research has investigated long-term potentiation, the process by which the synaptic connection between neurons is temporarily strengthened.
This has been cited as the basis of neural plasticity – the process by which the brain can re-organise itself at the cellular level to make new connections and pathways.
This is thought to be essential for learning, as well as recovery after damage.
Kandel’s “new science of mind” is an integration of neuroscience, biology, and the study of behavior that will connect the workings of individual neurons in the brain with philosophy, sociology, economics, art, war, and manifestations of human culture. “Neuroscience is the Esperanto,” Kandel says, “the humanistic language that binds it all together.” His research into the molecular and cellular basis of short- and long-term memory forms the foundation for the understanding of this language. His work illuminating how signals move through neurons earned him the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2000, alongside Arvid Carlsson from the University of G√∂teborg in Sweden and Paul Greengard of Rockefeller University. Kandel is, as Grundfest suggested 50 years ago, taking the next step in the study of the mind. “I think it’s likely that a variety of social phenomena are going to be explored at the biological level,” he says.
Kandel is also well-known for being the first author of the weighty neuroscience ‘bible’ Principles of Neural Science (ISBN 0838577016).
UPDATE: A video and transcript of Kandel’s Nobel lecture is available here. Thanks Mxr!
Link to article ‘Minding the Brain’.
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Kandels Nobel lecture in December 8, 2000, with video (Real Player) and also in PDF.