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In Search of Memory

'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.

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.

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.

'It's a deeply personal movie, and Kandel's vibrant personality shines through in every scene...For budding scientists, it is fascinating to hear how Kandel's career unfolded.' -PsycCritiques

'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

'This is not just a dry doc about brain functions. Seeger makes a convincing connection between Kandel's work and his life as a Jew who escaped from Vienna during World War II. Kandel demurs early in the film that he isn't easy to live with, but he's certainly a pleasure to spend time with in a doc, and his story and his passion, which Seeger easily conveys, are, if you'll pardon the inevitable pun, memorable.' -Hank Sartin, Time Out Chicago

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

'Because of Kandel's powerful charm and energy, the science-less and more personal aspects of the documentary add an engaging and often comical texture to this very delicate quest for memory and remembrance.' -Stephanie Lee,

'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. But, like Eric, Petra Seeger's film resonates in all directions, illuminating not only the trajectory of psychology and neuroscience in the last century, but the nature of art and science, history and remembrance, work and love, inspiration and achievement. It is an unforgettable journey.' -Oliver Sacks

'Entertaining, educational and inspiring. ...This film shows that it is possible to present highly complex scientific ideas in a way that is quite easily understood by the layman.' -Leonardo Reviews


Main credits

Seeger, Petra (screenwriter)
Seeger, Petra (film director)
Seeger, Petra (film producer)
Kandel, Eric R. (interviewee)

Other credits

Director of photography, Robert Winkler, Mario Masini; editor, Oliver Neumann.

Docuseek2 subjects

Distributor subjects

History (World)
Jewish Film Festivals
Jewish Studies
Neuroscience and Neurology
US and Canadian Broadcast Rights


Eric Kandel; Kandel; Nobel Prize; Nobel; Prize; winner; winners; Columbia University; holocaust; Harvard; Neuroscience; Brain science; Scientific discovery; Medecine; research team; brain; memory; documentary; film; video; DVD; Howard Hughes Medical Center; "In Search of Memory"; Icarus Films; exclusive1;

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