'[Kandel's discoveries] have truly changed our understanding of brain function' - Citation for the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
'[Eric Kandel is] one of the preeminent neuroscientists in the world' - Sue Halpern, The New York Review of Books
Neurological and psychiatric disorders have long been regarded as fundamentally different, depending on whether they appear to affect the brain or the mind. In reality, the brain and the mind are inseparable. Both types of disorder can affect every aspect of brain function: from perception, action, memory and emotion to empathy, social interaction, attention and consciousness.
It is easy to view brain disorders as simply tragic or frightening. However, studying where these functions go wrong provides a window on the workings of the healthy brain, and makes it more likely that scientists and clinicians will be able to develop effective treatments or preventative strategies. As individuals, and as a society, we are also able to better empathise with people with disorders of the mind.
Building on his pioneering research, Eric R. Kandel illustrates how breakthrough studies of brain disruptions can deepen our understanding of thought, feeling, behaviour, memory and creativity, and perhaps in the future will transform medical care and lead to the development of a unified theory of mind.
Nobel Prize winning-neuroscientist Kandel (Reduction in Art and Brain Science) delves optimistically into the current state of the "new biology of mind," a sophisticated framework deriving from "the marriage of modern cognitive psychology and neuroscience." Kandel consolidates data and ideas from core advances, including genetic research that proves some biological basis for various psychiatric disorders, and imaging techniques that indicate the function of specific brain structures. Emphasizing that brain disorders can yield insights into normal cognitive functioning, he looks to autism for understanding the social brain, depression and bipolar disorders for understanding the emotional brain, schizophrenia for understanding decision making, dementia for understanding memory, and Parkinson's and Huntington's disease for understanding movement. His background as coauthor of the flagship textbook Principles of Neural Science is clear throughout, thanks to the highly accessible presentation, heavy on reader-friendly graphics and explanations of basics. Kandel's deep compassion for people is also evident, as when he discusses how understanding the biological basis for mental disorders might take them out of the realm of legal culpability. The result of his work is an easily comprehended, meticulous synthesis of current research into the biological grounding of the human mind. 77 color and b&w illus.