1. Neuroscience circa 1960

My story about the effort to make some sense of the human brain begins in 1960, not long after I arrived in Boston to start my first year at Harvard Medical School. Within a few months, I began learning the foundations of brain science (as it was then understood) from a remarkable group of individuals who had themselves only recently arrived at Harvard and were mostly not much older than me.

The senior member of the contingent was Stephen Kuffler, then in his early 50s and already a central figure in twentieth-century neuroscience. Otto Krayer, the head of the Department of Pharmacology at the medical school, had recruited Kuffler to Harvard from Johns Hopkins only a year earlier. Kuffler’s mandate was to form a new ...

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