Meet André Fenton

  • Posted 04.25.18
  • NOVA

Neurobiologist André Fenton wants to know exactly how memory works. He investigates how our life experiences are laid down and stored as memories in our brains, and how the act of remembering triggers relevant information and ignores what’s irrelevant, allowing you, for example, to remember the food poisoning you contracted on that awkward first date 10 years ago— and the chicken marsala that caused it—over the shirt you wore at the time.

Running Time: 05:17

Growing up with an admiration for the protagonists of “The Hardy Boys” and the mysteries they solved, André dreamed of becoming a detective. He was also fascinated by how different people perceive the world around them. A college biology lecture on the distinctions between frog and human eyesight led him on a path toward exploring how our brains shape our perceptions of the world.

“My reality, the way I see the world, is because of my brain. And understanding my brain has a particular take on the world, it became very clear that I should be studying neurobiology,” André says. “I can’t think of a bigger, harder mystery to solve, and that’s the one I’m working on all the time.”

Today, André and his team at the Fenton lab at NYU use genetic, molecular, behavioral, engineering, and theoretical tools to investigate memory and other fundamental issues in neuroscience. The team identified a molecule called PKMzeta as the first to maintain the persistence of memories in the brain, a discovery that Science Magazine declared as one of the 10 most important of all science and technology breakthroughs published in 2006. André also founded Bio Signal Group Corp., which developed and commercialized an FDA-approved wireless, portable and easy-to-use platform for obtaining medical-quality EEGs anywhere—anytime—for everyone.

André has appeared in several NOVAs and NOVA scienceNOW programs, and enthusiastically joined NOVA Wonders, because it’s a show “designed for the little boy that I was.”

“When I was growing up, there wasn't any way for me to easily and directly access the science of the world. And it turns out that the science of the world is fascinating,” he says. “NOVA Wonders was a challenge for me to communicate that to a lot of people and, in some sense, provide the kind of thing that I wish I had had and the kind of thing I wish my daughter could have.”

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Dr. André Fenton, Ph.D. Co-Host, NOVA Wonders; Professor, Center for Neural Science, NYU Enlarge Photo credit: © WGBH Educational Foundation









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