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William Calvin [17]William H. Calvin [16]
  1. William Calvin, My Synapses, Myself.
    The self, Joseph LeDoux tells us, is “the totality of the living organism”. Most disciplines in the natural sciences focus on only one or two levels of organization. Indeed, Dmitri Mendeleev figured out the periodic table of the elements without knowing any of the underlying quantum mechanics or stereochemistry. There are, however, at least a dozen levels of organization within the neurosciences — and, if we use a metaphor, we temporarily create yet another. This leads to considerable confusion and arguments (...)
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  2. William H. Calvin, Email || Home Page || Publication List.
    Plan-ahead becomes necessary for those movements which are over-and-done in less time than it takes for the feedback loop to operate. Natural selection for one of the ballistic movements (hammering, clubbing, and throwing) could evolve a plan-ahead serial buffer for hand-arm commands that would benefit the other ballistic movements as well. This same circuitry may also sequence other muscles (children learning handwriting often screw up their faces and tongues) and so novel oral-facial sequences may also benefit (as might kicking and (...)
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  3. William H. Calvin, Global Fever.
    a. Lessons from science and medicine b. Lessons from industrial revolutions c. How Deep Geothermal can replace coal. d. How to sink a lot of carbon quickly.
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  4. William H. Calvin, Pumping Up Intelligence.
    The title is not a metaphor, though past tense might be better as this chapter is about how each of the many hundred abrupt coolings of the last several million years could have served as a pump stroke, each elevating intelligence a small increment - even though what natural selection was operating on was not intelligence per se.
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  5. William H. Calvin, Scientific American.
    An expanded version has now appeared: HOW BRAINS THINK: Evolving Intelligence, Then and Now in the Science Masters series (BasicBooks 1996 in the USA and Weidenfeld & Nicolson in the UK, various translation editions elsewhere, including China). My Darwin Machines model for cerebral cortical circuitry has now appeared as THE CEREBRAL CODE: Thinking a Thought in the Mosaics of the Mind (MIT Press 1996).
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  6. William H. Calvin, The Great Use-It-or-Lose-It Intelligence Test.
    To fit the magnificence of this setting in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People, and the honor of giving the 2007 Sir John Crawford Memorial Lecture, it is well to have a subject of suitable proportions. I have chosen one of global size and urgent time frame: our climate crisis. We only have one future and one global climate–and now it looks as if we only have one chance to rescue our civilization from collapse and prevent a mass extinction of (...)
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  7. William H. Calvin, The Six Essentials?
    Since Richard Dawkins' The Extended Phenotype got me to thinking about copying units in the mid-1980s, I have been trying to define a cerebral code (the spatiotemporal firing pattern that represents a word, image, metaphor, or even a sentence) by searching for what can be successfully replicated in the brain's neural circuitry, a minimum replicable unit. I indeed found such circuitry (it implies that the firing pattern within several hundred minicolumns of neocortex, contained in a 0.5 mm hexagon, is (...)
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  8. William Calvin, Bellagio 1997.
    The most interesting of our 1997 travels was Bellagio, Italy. It's hard to explain this without lapsing into superlatives over and over, so let me try bare facts first. The Rockefeller Foundation was, in the 1950s, given a 50-acre estate known as the Villa Serbelloni. It was also given enough endowment to maintain the place and run it as a retreat ("The Bellagio Study and Conference Center") for..
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  9. William Calvin, Brains and the World of 2025.
    I have two tales to tell. Well, maybe three. Presently I will get to the good news concerning what knowledge of the brain will do to education and training by 2025, making adults far more mentally capable than most of us are now, with all its implications for warfare and other less lethal forms of competition.
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  10. William Calvin, Bill Calvin's Brainstorm.
    That’s Bill Calvin, whose brain is worthy of study in its own right. Technically, he’s a theoretical neurophysiologist and affiliate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Washington. But he’s also known as a scientist with a wide-ranging intellect and a prolific (and accessible) writer who constantly offers remarkable insights about the world around him. As I sat down to interview Calvin in his book-lined Seattle home last Fall, I recalled the comments of someone who had come (...)
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  11. William Calvin, , "Computers as Modelers of Climate," in the Greatest Inventions of the Past.
    Computer simulations may allow us to understand the earth’s fickle climate and how it is affected by detours of the great ocean currents. These detours cause abrupt coolings -- the average global temperature can drop dramatically in just a few years, with droughts that set up El-Niño-like forest fires even in the tropics. While volcanic eruptions and Antarctic ice shelf collapses can also abruptly cool things, what we’re talking about here is a flip-flop: a few centuries later, there’s an equally (...)
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  12. William Calvin, Filling the Empty Niches.
    When surveying the spectrum from pop psych to neurology in works addressed to general readers, one is struck by how few major figures there have been - certainly when cognitive neuro is compared to a far smaller field (1), evolutionary biology, where real literary talents like Loren Eiseley once flourished, where "media dons" like Richard Dawkins regularly clarify our thinking, where there are magnificent series like those of Stephen Jay Gould (fifteen major essays a year, plus scholarly books and research (...)
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  13. William Calvin, German Translations.
    German translation Der Strom der bergauf fließt: Ein Reise durch die Evolution (Carl Hanser Verlag, 1994), DM58-. [click here to see German cover].
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  14. William Calvin, No-Slides Bookstore Talk (October 2002).
    In particular, one of Gould's important contributions as a paleontologist was to convince us that there are long periods in evolution where species don't change very much, that Darwinian gradualism doesn't guarantee a steady course of improvements. And that there are periods -- not at all inconsistent with Darwinian gradualism -- when things progress considerably faster. I tuned right into what Steve was saying since both of my main interests in evolution, the evolution of the big brain in only several (...)
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  15. William Calvin, Par-Delà Les Scissures Et Les Sillons.
    Placez la photographie du cerveau d’Einstein au milieu d’une centaine d’autres clichés du même type : il ne fait aucun doute que n’importe quel étudiant en neurosciences le repérerait immédiatement. “ C’est aussi étrange que d’avoir deux pieds gauches , dirait-il. Comment cet individu pouvait-il danser avec deux cerveaux droits ? S’agissait-il d’un attardé mental ou d’un génie ? ” Les règles de l’origami prénatal nous sont encore largement inconnues, mais chaque étudiant apprend vite à distinguer les replis les plus (...)
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  16. William Calvin, Q: What is Today's Most Important Unreported Story?
    A: That's easy: abrupt climate change, the sort of thing where most of the earth returns to ice-age temperatures in just a decade or two, accompanied by a major worldwide drought. Then, centuries later, it flips back just as quickly. This has happened hundreds of times in the past.
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  17. William Calvin, Seattle WA 98195-1800 USA.
    Neurons run on electricity 1, producing many impulses each second when they are working hard. These brief (1/1000 second, as rapid as a fast camera shutter), 0.1 volt impulses (though a hundred times smaller if recorded from outside the cell) can be amplified and heard via a loudspeaker. Neurophysiologists routinely listen to neurons via loudspeakers in their laboratories, much as anesthesiologists listen to a patient's heartbeat in the operating room.
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  18. William Calvin, The Emergence of Intelligence.
    Yet versatility is not always a virtue, and more of it is not always better. When the chimpanzees of Uganda arrive at a grove of fruit trees, they often discover that the efficient local..
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  19. William Calvin, The Evolution of Consciousness.
    I will actually talk mostly about evolutionary processes in the brain as we think about what to say next; I'll be happy to answer questions later, however, about how this system we call consciousness itself evolved on the usual evolutionary time scale of the ice ages.
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  20. William Calvin, The Feeling of What Happens New York.
    Antonio R. Damasio , The Feeling of What Happens: Body and Emotion in the Making of Consciousness . This is clearly a must-read book for anyone wanting a neurologist's perspective on one of the greatest of the unsolved mysteries, human consciousness and the ways in which it exceeds that of the other apes. By the author of Descartes' Error.
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  21. William Calvin, William H. Calvin , "Memory's Future," Psychology Today 34(2):55ff.
    Psychology's fascination with memory and its imperfections dates back further than we can remember. The first careful experimental studies of memory were published in 1885 by German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus, and tens of thousands of memory studies have been conducted since. What has been learned, and what might the future of memory be?
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  22. William Calvin, Webbed Reprint Collection.
    Homo erectus made symmetrical tools. The handaxe is a flattened tear-drop shape, but often with edges sharpened all around. Before we assign their obsession with symmetry to an esthetic judgment, we must consider whether it is possible that the symmetry is simply very pragmatic for one particular use of the many suggested.
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  23. William H. Calvin (2007). Why a Creative Brain? Evolutionary Setups for Off-Line Planning of Coherent Stages. In Henri Cohen & Brigitte Stemmer (eds.), Consciousness and Cognition: Fragments of Mind and Brain. Elxevier Academic Press.
     
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  24. William H. Calvin (2004). A Brief History of the Mind: From Apes to Intellect and Beyond. Oxford University Press.
    This book looks back at the simpler versions of mental life in apes, Neanderthals, and our ancestors, back before our burst of creativity started 50,000 years...
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  25. William H. Calvin (2002). Rediscovery and the Cognitive Aspects of Toolmaking: Lessons From the Handaxe. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 25 (3):403-404.
    Long before signs of staged toolmaking appeared, Homo erectus made symmetrical tools. The handaxe is a flattened tear-drop shape, but often with edges sharpened all around. Before we assign their obsession with symmetry to an aesthetic judgment, we must consider whether it is possible that the symmetry is simply very pragmatic for one particular use in the many suggested.
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  26. William H. Calvin (1998). Competing for Consciousness: A Darwinian Mechanism at an Appropriate Level of Explanation. Journal of Consciousness Studies 5 (4):389-404.
    Treating consciousness as awareness or attention greatly underestimates it, ignoring the temporary levels of organization associated with higher intellectual function (syntax, planning, logic, music). The tasks that require consciousness tend to be the ones that demand a lot of resources. Routine tasks can be handled on the back burner but dealing with ambiguity, groping around offline, generating creative choices, and performing precision movements may temporarily require substantial allocations of neocortex. Here I will attempt to clarify the appropriate levels of explanation (...)
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  27. William H. Calvin (1996). The Cerebral Code. MIT Press.
    In "The Cerebral Code," he has solidly embedded his ideas in experimental neurophysiology and neuropharmacology, deriving from his decades in the laboratory.
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  28. William Calvin (1995). Cortical Columns, Modules, and Hebbian Cell Assemblies. In Michael A. Arbib (ed.), Handbook of Brain Theory and Neural Networks. Mit Press. 269--272.
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  29. William H. Calvin (1991). The Ascent of Mind: Ice Age Climates and the Evolution of Intelligence. Bantam Books.
  30. William H. Calvin (1990). The Cerebral Symphony: Seashore Reflections on the Structure of Consciousness. Bantam.
  31. William H. Calvin (1987). On Evolutionary Expectations of Symmetry and Toolmaking. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 10 (2):267.
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  32. William H. Calvin (1984). Precision Timing Requirements Suggest Wider Brain Connections, Not More Restricted Ones. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 7 (3):334.
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  33. William H. Calvin (1983). Timing Sequencers as a Foundation for Language. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 6 (2):210.
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