Professor Changeux's broad and profound contribution ranges from the fundamental molecular mechanisms of chemical communication in the nervous system to learning and consciousness. In addition to his outstanding experimental work, Professor Changeux has made a theoretical contribution on the epigenesis of neuronal networks by selective stabilisation of developing synapses and on several aspects of cognition.
Jean-Pierre Changeux has established a new direction for the study of cognitive functions by rooting them at the molecular level.
Professor at Collège de France and at Institut Pasteur in Paris, Jean-Pierre Changeux (born in Domont, France, in 1936) is one of the fathers of modern neurobiology. His studies on acetylcholine receptors, isolated in the electric organs of some fish species, have been crucial to clarifying the way in which brain neurons communicate among them. As well as being a first-class molecular and cellular biologist, Changeux is considered a maître à penser, a "humanist of the 21st century", for his rich personality and for his ability to throw bridges between the life sciences and the humanities, as witnessed by his books.
L' homme neuronal, (1983), is an example of high-level scientific popularisation and quickly established itself as a classic of neuroscience. His commitment to philosophy is highlighted in his conversations with leading figures of our age, such as the mathematician Alain Connes, in which he discusses the nature of mathematical objects in our brain (in Matière à pensée, 1989), and with the philosopher Paul Ricoeur ( Balzan Prize 1999 for philosophy), in which he debates the relationship between mind and brain (in La nature et la règle, 1998). Finally, his passion for art is displayed in Raison et plaisir (1994) in which he investigates the "cerebral" origin of artistic creation and its enjoyment.