This past week, a great man of science passed away unexpectedly. In a loss profound within the behavior neuroscience community, we miss Howard Eichenbaum. This scientist was known for his prolific work on the hippocampus, a seahorse-shaped structure shared by animals from rodents to people, and taught us much about the brain’s role in memory, learning, and emotion. One of his graduate students, Timothy Otto, became one of my own graduate mentors.
For several years until a decade ago, I spent time in his Rutgers laboratory. I learned from, studied under, and published with Dr. Otto; his criticism helped strengthen my work, hone my behavioral observation expertise first watered at UNT, and illuminate skillset cracks that I continue to work to fill.
Perhaps good mentors hope we follow in their footsteps. I think great mentors foresee that often, we will not, and still encourage us to forge a unique path—or to find the “path that has heart”. From the vantage point of my private practice serving adults with dementia, developmental disabilities or autism, and children affected by Rett syndrome, asperger’s, or foster care, I realize now how great a loss it might seem to have one’s student (although I was not all that promising) leap from the academic tower—and fall right out of the neurotree.
Yet although we are no longer tethered, we remain invisibly connected. Today my work touches some of the most vulnerable populations and is informed in a way it could not have been except for those laboratory days.
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