The Cerebral Symphony: Seashore Reflections on the Structure of Consciousness

William H. Calvin, Author
William H. Calvin, Author Bantam Books $19.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-553-05707-2
Reviewed on: 11/28/1989
Release date: 12/01/1989
Neurobiologist Calvin's wispy, New Age-flavored travelogue--abuzz with cormorants and skunks, insects and plants of Woods Hole, Mass., and its littoral environs--ensheathes his fairly technical exposition of the neurophysiology of mind. Some readers will be enthralled; others may grow impatient with his approach. Of particular interest is his theoretical blueprint for a Darwin Machine, a type of computer that uses parallel networking in a ``variation-then-selection'' process to generate ideas. This hypothetical device, in his forecast, will one day exhibit most of what we now call consciousness, including the gifts of imagination and creativity. Along the way, Calvin ( The River That Flows Uphill ) offers a graceful introduction to the mechanisms underlying visual perception, memory, language acquisition, problem-solving and music appreciation--skills that the Darwin Machine, in his view, will someday possess. Illustrated. (Jan.)
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