In Search of Memory: The Neuroscientist Eric Kandel

Directed by Petra Seeger

95 minutes / Color
Release: 2009
Copyright: 2008

"Memory is everything. Without it we are nothing," says neuroscientist Eric Kandel, winner of the Nobel Prize for his groundbreaking research on the physiology of the brain's storage of memories. As he explains, memory is the glue that binds our mental life together and provides a sense of continuity in our lives.

IN SEARCH OF MEMORY is a compelling blend of autobiography and history that recounts the life of one of the most important neuroscientists of the 20th century and illuminates scientific developments in our understanding of the brain's role in recording and preserving memory. In addition to archival footage and dramatic re-creations of Kandel's childhood experiences in Nazi-occupied Vienna and his formative years as an emigrant in New York, the film features discussions with Kandel, friends and family, as well as his public lectures in Vienna and New York, which explore both his professional and personal life, especially his emotional ties to Judaism.

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Both through its personal journey into the memory of this amazingly spry and witty 79-year old, especially his traumatic experiences during the Holocaust, and a visit to his Columbia University laboratory, where Kandel and his colleagues demonstrate their experimental research, IN SEARCH OF MEMORY examines how the brain stores memories, the difference between short-term and long-term memory, Alzheimer's and age-related memory loss, and structural modifications to the brain that enhance memory.

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In revisiting the people, places and objects of Kandel's lifetime experiences, IN SEARCH OF MEMORY reveals how everything we undergo changes the brain, even our genetic make-up, and can determine the focus of a life's work.

"An engrossing portrait... a generous introduction to someone worth knowing who knows an awful lot." A.O. Scott, The New York Times

"Mentally stimulating and emotionally affecting." —Michael Phillips, The Chicago Tribune

"Conveys the breadth of neuroscience and the scientific process." Alison Abbott, Nature

"A passionate exploration of the life and work of Eric Kandel, the brilliant and irrepressible neurobiologist, whose pioneering work has illuminated the very workings of memory… an unforgettable journey." Oliver Sacks

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A Film by Petra Seeger

Select Accolades

  • Winner of a Viewer's Choice Award, WPA Film Festival 2010
  • 2009 Imagine Science Film Festival, New York, NY
  • 2010 Atlanta Jewish Film Festival
  • 2010 Rio de Janeiro International Jewish Film Festival


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