Taste Electrophysiology, Sensory Coding and Behavior

  • Carl Pfaffmann


As in the case of many other scientists, I can trace the beginnings of my interest and actual laboratory work largely to one individual, the late Leonard Carmichael, who was Professor and Director of the Laboratory of Psychology and Sensory Physiology at Brown University from 1927 to 1936. As an undergraduate at Brown University, the first of my family of any generation to attend a university, I found the academic environment a new and exciting experience. My father, the son of German immigrants, had little formal education, but was moderately successful in business. The prospects of following in his footsteps did not attract me, but he never discouraged me or tried to influence my decision as I became more and more inclined toward an academic career. Midway through my undergraduate period, I decided finally to become a professor and considered majoring in mathematics or possibly American history, the latter largely because of a very stimulating young professor. Then I took Leonard Carmichael’s introductory psychology course, and found the subject that really aroused my interest. Psychology at Brown University was treated as a life science in a department with a strong biological approach. The undergraduate courses did include a broad range of psychological topics (mental testing, personality, and abnormal psychology, etc.), but the research emphasis was biological (e.g., sensory processes and psychophysics, the mechanisms of learning and conditioning, brain and behavior interrelations). My undergraduate academic record was quite good, and after I had earned nearly all A’s in most introductory and intermediate psychology courses, Carmichael invited me to enroll in the Honors program.


Basilar Membrane Taste Receptor Taste Cell Taste Preference Taste Quality 
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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1984

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  • Carl Pfaffmann

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