William Calvin:
THE CEREBRAL CODE (MIT Press, 1996)


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(Copyright © 1999 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )


This book provides a detailed neurophysiological explanation of how the brain works that complements the general paradigm endorsed in How Brains Think. Basically, it advances a darwinian theory for how the cerebral cortex of the brain represents mental images. The American psychiatrist William Calvin shows that, in agreement with Jung's theory that dreaming occurs all the time but we can't see them when we are awake, mental images evolve subconsciously. He has observed hexagonal mosaics of electrical activity that compete for cortex space. The spatiotemporal firing pattern within the hexagon (that repeats itself every 0.5 mm) is the cerebral code for a mental image. Circuits in the cortex act as copying machines, but they copy in a darwinian fashion, i.e. introducing mistakes that continuously create variants. Such variant hexagonal mosaics compete for cortex space. Calvin found all the darwinian algorithms for evolution, plus even the catalysts that speed up evolution, i.e. the equivalents of sex, island settings and climate change. The brain is a Darwin Machine, because it exhibits all the features of an evolutionary system: a reasonably complex pattern, a copying machine, variance by chance, competetition among variants, selection by environmental factors, selective reproduction (juvenile mortality and/or sexual selection). This hypothesis is consistent with darwinian evolution, Hebb's cell assembly, Dawking's memes. In particular, neocortical hexagons can account for Hebb's trace memory.

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