Offered for sale by: Delectus Books

Grey Walter, W. The Living Brain , London: Gerald Duckworth, 1953.

First Edition. Hardcover. Very Good/Good. 8vo - over 7" - 9" tall B0000CII0N W. Grey Walter (February 19, 1910 - May 6, 1977) was a neurophysiologist and robotician. Walter was born in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1910. He was brought to England in 1915, and educated at Westminster School and afterwards in King's College, Cambridge, in 1931. He failed to obtain a research fellowship in Cambridge and so turned to doing basic and applied neurophysiological research in hospitals, in London, from 1935 to 1939 and then at the Burden Neurological Institute in Bristol, from 1939 to 1970. He also carried out research work in the United States, in the Soviet Union and in various other places in Europe. He married twice, and had two sons from his first marriage and one from the second. According to his eldest son, Nicolas Walter, "he was politically on the left, a communist fellow-traveller before the Second World War and an anarchist sympathiser after it." Throughout his life he was a pioneer in the field of cybernetics. In 1970 he was in a severe automobile accident and died seven years later on May 6, 1977 without fully recovering. As a young man Walter was greatly influenced by the work of the famous Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov. He visited the lab of Hans Berger, who invented the electroencephalograph, or EEG machine, for measuring electrical activity in the brain. Walter produced his own versions of Berger's machine with improved capabilities, which allowed it to detect a variety of brain wave types ranging from the high speed alpha waves to the slow delta waves observed during sleep. In the 1930s Walter made a number of discoveries using his EEG machines at Burden Neurological Institute in Bristol. He was the first to determine by triangulation the surface location of the strongest alpha waves within the occipital lobe (alpha waves originate from the thalamus deep within the brain). Walter demonstrated the use of delta waves to locate brain tumours or lesions responsible for epilepsy. He developed the first brain topography machine based on EEG, using on an array of spiral-scan CRTs connected to high-gain amplifiers. During the Second World War he worked on scanning radar technology and guided missiles, which may have influenced his subsequent alpha wave scanning hypothesis of brain activity. In the 1960s Walter also went on to discover the contingent negative variation (CNV) effect (or readiness potential) whereby a negative spike of electrical activity appears in the brain half a second prior to a person being consciously aware of movements that he is about to make. Intriguingly, this effect brings into question the very notion of consciousness or free will, and should be considered as part of a person's overall reaction time to events. Walter's experiments with stroboscopic light, described in The Living Brain, inspired the development of a Dream Machine by the artist Brion Gysin and technician Ian Sommerville. (Book ref. 038082 )  £ 25.00

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