Inside the Mind: A Guided Tour

Photograph of Eric R. Kandel

Eric R. Kandel

Photograph of Thomas M. Jessell

Thomas M. Jessell

Two of the nation’s preeminent neuroscientists explored the science behind memory and the mind for 180 Washington, D.C., area high school students at the 2008 Holiday Lectures on Science.

In two days of talks at HHMI headquarters in Chevy Chase, Maryland, HHMI investigators Eric R. Kandel and Thomas M. Jessell, both of Columbia University, described how the nervous system turns an idea into action—from the complex processing of signals inside the brain to the direct marching orders the spinal cord gives to muscles.

To satisfy the curious crowd, the scientists also addressed some “big picture” questions, such as: How does memory work? How did the human brain get its remarkable computational power? And how do normal brain functions gone awry lead to mental illness and disease?

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Photo credit: Kandel: Christopher Denney Jessell: Paul Fetters