William H. Calvin, "Darwinian aspects of generating novel structured movement programs and choosing between alternatives," invited speaker for Mirror Neurons and the Evolution of Brain and LanguageJuly 05-08, 2000.  Hanse Institute for Advanced Study, Delmenhorst, Germany.   See also

The Powerpoint slides are at and there is a commentary, "The Mind’s Big Bang and Mirroring."
Webbed Abstract Collection
This 'tree' is really a pyramidal neuron of cerebral cortex.  The axon exiting at bottom goes long distances, eventually splitting up into 10,000 small branchlets to make synapses with other brain cells.
William H. Calvin

University of Washington
Seattle WA 98195-1800 USA

Darwinian aspects of generating novel structured movement programs and choosing between alternatives.

 William H. Calvin
University of Washington
Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences
Box 351800
Seattle, Washington 98195-1800 USA  

In my 1996 book, The Cerebral Code, I explored the consequences of a Hebbian cell-assembly, a minimal spatiotemporal firing pattern (“code”) able to clone itself in adjacent cortex via recurrent excitatory cortical connections of the “express-train” variety.  And when such a “plainchant choir” was sufficiently large, able to establish a distant metastasis of the identical code despite the usually incoherent corticocortical connections; this allows compounding codes by superposition.  A code could easily represent a collection of attributes constituting a concept, and it could be movement-related as easily as sensory.  It seems particularly suitable for higher-order concepts such as a string of movements (say, characteristic posture and finger movement sequence - or speaking a phrase).  Because the “choirs” can compete offline for cortical workspace with variant choirs, a Darwinian shaping up of quality can emerge, successive generations reflecting the current sensory and neurohumoral environment plus memorized environments of life so far.  As such, this provides a model for how novel movement sequences could be shaped up to match observed sequences.  I will also discuss tree-like structuring of concepts or movements (“I think I saw him leave to go home” is four sentences nested like Russian dolls) along the lines that Derek Bickerton  and I discuss in our new book, Lingua ex Machina: Reconciling Darwin and Chomsky with the Human Brain.  This provides a view of how movement subroutines could be separately shaped up and merged. || Home Page || Calvin publication list || The Bookshelf ||

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