Top 47 Eric Kandel Quotes

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“The biology of mind bridges the sciences – concerned with the natural world – and the humanities – concerned with the meaning of human experience.”

― Eric Kandel

“One of the wonderful things about Internet is it’s like a salon. It brings people together from different intellectual walks of life.”

― Eric Kandel

“Life is sort of a circle. You come back to a lot of the interests that you had early in life.”

― Eric Kandel

“I have a philosophy that has guided me throughout all of my scientific career, and that is, I think of myself as a fairly thoughtful person. I don’t go into projects impetuously, and I try to select important problems.”

― Eric Kandel

“I found working in the lab is so completely different than reading a textbook about it. You know, you’re planning strategies; you’re working with your own hands. There’s essential satisfaction in running experiments.”

― Eric Kandel

“Rather than studying the most complex form of memory in a very complicated animal, we had to take the most simple form – an implicit form of memory – in a very simple animal. So I began to look around for very simple animals. And I focused in on the marine snail Aplysia.”

― Eric Kandel

“A brain scan may reveal the neural signs of anxiety, but a Kokoschka painting, or a Schiele self-portrait, reveals what an anxiety state really feels like. Both perspectives are necessary if we are to fully grasp the nature of the mind, yet they are rarely brought together.”

― Eric Kandel

“The brain is a complex biological organ possessing immense computational capability: it constructs our sensory experience, regulates our thoughts and emotions, and controls our actions.”

― Eric Kandel

“There was little in my early life to indicate that an interest in biology would become the passion of my academic career. In fact, there was little to suggest I would have an academic career.”

― Eric Kandel

“I’ve been around a long time, and I’ve been interested in memory for a long time. And one of my earlier interests in molecular biology of memory led me to define the switch that converts short term to long term memory.”

― Eric Kandel

“I was born in Vienna on November 7, 1929, eleven years after the multiethnic Austro-Hungarian Empire fell apart following its defeat in World War I.”

― Eric Kandel

“My parents genuinely loved Vienna, and in later years I learned from them why the city exerted a powerful hold on them and other Jews. My parents loved the dialect of Vienna, its cultural sophistication, and artistic values.”

― Eric Kandel

“My parents were not born in Vienna, but they had spent much of their lives there, having each come to the city at the beginning of World War I when they were still very young.”

― Eric Kandel

“In the 1950s and early 1960s, psychoanalysis swept through the intellectual community, and it was the dominant mode of thinking about the mind. People felt that this was a completely new set of insights into human motivation, and that its therapeutic potential was significant.”

― Eric Kandel

“The problem of psychoanalysis is not the body of theory that Freud left behind, but the fact that it never became a medical science. It never tried to test its ideas.”

― Eric Kandel

“Long-term memory involves enduring changes that result from the growth of new synaptic connections.”

― Eric Kandel

“You could double the number of synaptic connections in a very simple neurocircuit as a result of experience and learning. The reason for that was that long-term memory alters the expression of genes in nerve cells, which is the cause of the growth of new synaptic connections.”

― Eric Kandel

“I was interested in the nature of human mental processes, which is what got me interested in psychoanalysis. And it became clear to me after a while that mental processes come from the brain, and in order to understand them, you need to be a biologist of the brain.”

― Eric Kandel

“I like problems at the borders of disciplines. One of the reasons that neurobiology of learning and memory appeal to me so much was that I liked the idea of bringing biology and psychology together.”

― Eric Kandel

“I was reluctant to be critical of the United States because I thought the United States could do no wrong; that the government could not lie to its people.”

― Eric Kandel

“In order to produce learned fear, you take a neutral stimulus like a tone, and you pair it with an electrical shock. Tone, shock. Tone, shock. So the animal learns that the tone is bad news. But you can also do the opposite – shock it at other times, but never when the tone comes on.”

― Eric Kandel

“You learn emotional experiences as much as you learn cognitive experiences, except that they are more unconscious. Sometimes one represses the cognitive component of it, but it’s often more difficult to repress the emotional component.”

― Eric Kandel

“Early in my career, I was disappointed that psychoanalysis was not becoming more empirical, was not becoming more scientific. It was primarily concerned with individual patients. It wasn’t trying to collect data from large groups of people who have been analyzed.”

― Eric Kandel

“What the Ellison Foundation and I are hoping to encourage is a more holistic approach to psychiatry, in which psychotherapy is put on as rigorous a level as psychopharmacology.”

― Eric Kandel

“Nerve cells communicate with one another at specialized points called synapses. And these synapses are plastic – they can be modified by learning.”

― Eric Kandel

“I went to medical school after having decided to do so somewhere between my junior and senior year at Harvard – very late. I initially wanted to be an intellectual historian.”

― Eric Kandel

“Modernism in Vienna brought together science and culture in a new way to create an Age of Insight that emphasized a more complex view of the human mind than had ever existed before.”

― Eric Kandel

“One of the ultimate challenges of biology is to understand how the brain becomes consciously aware of perception, experience and emotion. But it is equally conceivable that the exchange would be useful for the beholders of art, for people who enjoy art, for historians, and for the artists themselves.”

― Eric Kandel

“I would not necessarily say that scientists and artists need to collaborate with one another, but it would be helpful for them to talk to one another to, perhaps, give rise to specific ideas that may or may not be carried out together.”

― Eric Kandel

“I’ve been collecting art for much of my adult life. I started around 1960. And my wife and I really enjoy art a great deal. We don’t have a lot of money, so we have works on paper, but we enjoy them a great deal.”

― Eric Kandel

“As you know, in most areas of science, there are long periods of beginning before we really make progress.”

― Eric Kandel

“One can, in principle, outline sort of a set of neural circuits that are critically involved and even identify disorders that affect different components of that neural circuit and see what happens if you knock out, for example, inability to recognize faces, how it affects your response to portraiture.”

― Eric Kandel

“In art, as in science, reductionism does not trivialize our perception – of color, light, and perspective – but allows us to see each of these components in a new way.”

― Eric Kandel

“Indeed, artists, particularly modern artists, have intentionally limited the scope and vocabulary of their expression to convey, as Mark Rothko and Ad Reinhardt do, the most essential, even spiritual, ideas of their art.”

― Eric Kandel

“One of the ultimate challenges for biology is to understand the brain’s processing of unconscious and conscious perception, emotion, and empathy.”

― Eric Kandel

“Ever since the Enlightenment, people thought that we were living in a rational universe. They thought that God was a mathematician and that the function of the scientist was to figure out the mathematical rules whereby the universe was created.”

― Eric Kandel

“Carl von Rokitansky is one of the founders of scientific medicine and systematized it, looking at what the clinical symptoms mean. The medicine we practice today, which is infinitely more sophisticated, is Rokitansky’s medicine.”

― Eric Kandel

“If you read any of my books, they tend to have a strong historical perspective.”

― Eric Kandel

“Since Socrates and Plato first speculated on the nature of the human mind, serious thinkers through the ages – from Aristotle to Descartes, from Aeschylus to Strindberg and Ingmar Bergman – have thought it wise to understand oneself and one’s behavior.”

― Eric Kandel

“I had many moments of disappointment, despondency, and exhaustion, but I always found that by reading the literature and showing up at my lab looking at the data as they emerged day by day and discussing them with my students and postdoctoral fellows, I would gain a notion of what to do next.”

― Eric Kandel

“Psychoanalysis has a degree of unreliability about it. You will never know whether you’ve found the truth. You may find a subjective truth, but you don’t know.”

― Eric Kandel

“My heart beats in three-quarter time.”

― Eric Kandel

“Memory has always fascinated me. Think of it. You can recall at will your first day in high school, your first date, your first love.”

― Eric Kandel

“When I was a medical student in the 1950s, we practically never spoke about Alzheimer’s disease. And why is that so? And that is because people didn’t live long enough to have Alzheimer’s disease.”

― Eric Kandel

“It may act as an ancillary factor, but by itself, the mutation in tau doesn’t give you Alzheimer’s disease. This is not to say the tau is not very important. It may be important in propagating the disorder from one cell to another. But as a causal mechanism, the evidence is strongest for beta amyloid abnormalities.”

― Eric Kandel

“If you have a lesion in the hippocampus in both sides, you have short term memory, but you can convert that short term memory into long term memory.”

― Eric Kandel

“The problem for many people is that we cannot point to the underlying biological bases of most psychiatric disorders. In fact, we are nowhere near understanding them as well as we understand disorders of the liver or the heart.”

― Eric Kandel
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