Gerald Edelman, a Nobel Prize-winning scientist who was credited with unlocking mysteries of the immune and nervous systems and later ventured into ambitious studies of the human mind, died May 17 at his home in La Jolla, California. He was 84.

His son David Edelman said his father had Parkinson’s disease.

Once an aspiring violinist, Gerald Edelman ultimately pursued a scientific career that spanned decades and defied categorization. His Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine, which he shared in 1972 with the British scientist Rodney Porter, recognized his discoveries related to the chemical structure of antibodies.

But Edelman did not consider himself an immunologist.

He later embraced neuroscience, and particularly the study of how the nervous system is constructed beginning in the embryonic stage.

He was credited with leading the seminal discovery of a sort of cellular glue, called the neural cell adhesion molecule, which allows nerve cells to bind to one another and form the circuits of the nervous system. But he concluded that such biochemical discoveries, however important, could not fully elucidate the workings of the brain.