I was Neal Miller’s student at both Yale and Rockefeller from 1962-1969 and was involved in extending his biofeedback studies to rodents and in initiating studies on the role of brain catecholamines in animal models of depression. Miller’s influence has been a significant factor in my subsequent analyses of the neurobiology of depression and development of more effective antidepressant agents.
The thing I most admired about Neal was his supreme rationalism. He demonstrated time and again that one could approach virtually any problem no matter how difficult with reason and insight mixed with a healthy dose of imagination. His zeroing in on and identification of feedback as the essential difference between classical and instrumental conditioning and his subsequent use of it to treat emotional disorders is a lasting testament to this rationalism.
We presently live in an era of great scientific advancement and great anti-science reactionism. There is no question in my mind that had he been alive today, Neal would be in the forefront of the religion/science and evolution/creationism culture wars. He told me on more than one occasion that he proudly traced his family line back to the amoeba.