IN SEARCH OF MEMORY The Emergence of a New Science of Mind Wonderful Digest
In the course of our lives, most of us will have to make important private and public decisions that involve a biological understanding of mind. Some of these decisions will arise in the attempt to understand variations in normal human behavior, while others will concern more serious mental and neurological disorders. It is essential, therefore, that everyone have access to the best available scientific information presented in clear, understandable form. I share the view now current in the scientific community that we have a responsibility to provide the public with such information.Early in my career as a neuroscientist I realized that people without a background in science are as eager to learn about the new science of mind as we scientists are to explain it. In this spirit, one of my colleagues at Columbia University, James H. Schwartz, and I wrote Principles of Neural Science, an introductory college and medical school textbook that is now entering its fifth edition. The publication of that textbook led to invitations to give talks about brain science to general audiences. That experience convinced me that nonscientists are willing to work to understand the key issues of brain science if scientists are willing to work at explaining them. I have therefore written this book as an introduction to the new science of mind for the general reader who has no background in science. My purpose is to explain in simple terms how the new science of mind emerged from the theories and observations of earlier scientists into the experimental science that biology is today.A further impetus for writing this book came in the fall of 2000, when I was privileged to receive the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for my contributions to the study of memory storage in the brain. All Nobel laureates are invited to write an autobiographical essay. In the course of writing mine,I saw more clearly than before how my interest in the nature of memory was rooted in my childhood experiences in Vienna. I also saw more vividly, and with great wonder and gratitude, that my research has allowed me to participate in a historic period of science and to be part of an extraordinary international community of biological scientists.