Kandel pays tribute to Hubel's and Wiesel's 25-year partnership and work in neurobiology & vision

03/22/05

Eric Kandel salutes the work of Torsten Wiesel and David H. Hubel at 'readers & writers' event on Mar. 31

What happens when two brilliant neuroscientists from Sweden and Canada decide to form a partnership that lasts for two decades and remains obsessed on a single line of research: the brain's ability to see?

The answer: A 1981 Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine for groundbreaking research that transformed an entire branch of neurobiology and made lasting contributions to the field of neuroscience. Thanks to Hubel and Wiesel, scientists now have a greater understanding of how the brain processes visual information. By identifying the precise layers of brain tissue that analyze sight messages and discerning individual cells of the brain, they recognized some of the brain's most intricate mechanisms. Their discoveries also renewed debate on the "nature" vs. "nurture" question: Are the nerve connections responsible for vision innate or do they develop through experience via the early life of an animal or human?

In celebration of their unusually long collaboration and the publication of a new book on their careers, Brain and Visual Perception: The Story of a 25-Year Collaboration, fellow Nobel Laureate Eric Kandel (2000 Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine) will pay tribute to Drs. Wiesel and Hubel at the New York Academy of Sciences on Thursday, March 31 at 6 p.m. The event is a highlight of the Academy's new lecture series, "Readers & Writers" – a program highlighting important science books and their authors.

Two Beautiful Minds Are Better Than One

Taking a cue from their book (the work contains biographical information and a collection of their most vital research papers prefaced by newly written forewords that put their work in perspective with today's research), the two Laureates will describe the seeds of their partnership and chart how their work progressed from its beginnings in 1958 to its apex when both shared the Nobel Prize in 1981.

They will also discuss the importance of various mentors in their lives, especially Stephen W. Kuffler, who opened up the field by studying the cat retina in 1950, and founded the department of neurobiology at Harvard Medical School, where most of their work was done.

A reception and book sale will follow.

David H. Hubel is John Franklin Enders University Professor of Neurobiology, Emeritus, at Harvard Medical School.

Torsten N. Wiesel is director of the Shelby White and Leon Levy Center for Mind, Brain and Behavior and president emeritus of The Rockefeller University. He is also secretary general of the Human Frontier Science Program, president of the International Brain Research Organization, and chairman of the Board of the New York Academy of Sciences.

Eric R. Kandel is Professor of Neurobiology, Columbia University and a Senior Investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He is also the founding Director of the Center for Neurobiology and Behavior at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board and Co-Founder of Memory Pharmaceuticals. Dr. Kandel is the recipient of the 2000 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his pioneering research on the physiological basis of memory storage in neurons. He shared the prize with fellow recipients Arvid Carlsson and Paul Greengard.

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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