Collected Works of Warren McCulloch

Following the death of Warren McCulloch in 1969, his wife Rook McCulloch assiduously assembled a set of collected works. This exists as four volumes and includes not only Warren’s publications but important contributions from a total of 20 of his collaborators. Unfortunately the collection has not been widely, if at all, distributed because of bankruptcy of the publisher and what may be the only complete copy is held by Warren and Rook’s daughter, Taffy Holland. The original papers have been deposited by Rook with the American Philosophical Society and details can be found at

The collection has been described, without exaggeration, as a “historical gold mine” and it is to be hoped that it can still be made available. The following is a table of contents of the four volumes. Papers that have Warren as sole or joint author have a number in square brackets attached to them – this indicates their place in a bibliography that is part of the Appendix in volume 4. Without the bibliography the numbers are not useful, but have been retained to give an indication of the large number of citations.

Collected Works of Warren S. McCulloch



Preface by Heinz von Foerster

Foreword by Rook McCulloch

Introduction by Jerome Y. Lettvin

  1. Recollections of the Many Sources of Cybernetics [213]*

  2. Jerome Y. Lettvin: Strychnine Neuronography

  3. An Extinction Phenomenon on Stimulation of the Cerebra;l Cortex [6]

  4. A Photokymographic Method with Continuous Cathode Ray Oscillograms [11]

  5. On the Nature and Distribution of Factors for Facilitation and Extinction in the Central Nervous System [17]

  6. Functional Activity and pH of the Cerebral Cortex [19]

  7. Functional Organization in the Sensory Cortex of the Monkey (Macaca Mulatta) [20]

  8. The Direct Functional Interrelation of Sensory Cortex and Optic Thalamus [21]

  9. Irreversibility of Conduction in the Reflex Arc [24]

  10. Observations on the pH of the Arterial Blood, the pH and the Electrical Activity of the Cortex [26]

  11. Factors for Facilitation and Extinction in the Central Nervous System [28]

  12. The Knee-Jerk Following Facilitation and Extinguishing Stimulation of the Related Cortical Foci [30]

  13. Physiological Delimitation of Neurones in the Central Nervous Systems [32]

  14. The Sensory Cortex of the Chimpanzee [34]

  15. Sensory Cortex of Chimpanzee [38]

  16. The Motor Cortex of the Chimpanzee [41]

  17. Functional Interdependence of Sensory Cortex and Thalamus [42]

  18. Suppression of Motor Response Obtained from Area 4 by Stimulation of Area 4s [43]

  19. Functional Organization of Sensory and Adjacent Cortex of the Monkey [44]

  20. Cortical Origin and Distribution of Corpus Callosum and Anterior Commisure in the Monkey (Macaca Mulatta) [45]

  21. Physiological Neuronography of the Cortico-Striatal Connections [47]

  22. Excitability of Cerebral Cortex in Infant Macaca Mulatta [48]

  23. Joannes Gregorius Dusser de Barenne (1885-1940) [17]

  24. Henk van der Tweel: A Center Around One Person

  25. A. Verveen: A Personal Account

  26. The Uses of Strychnine [177]

  27. The Functional Organization of Occipital Lobe [49]

  28. Motor Response to Stimulation of Cerebral Cortex in Absence of Areas 4 and 5 (Macaca Mulatta) [50]

  29. Long Association Fibers in Cerebral Hemispheres of Monkey and Chimpanzee [54]

  30. Jerone Y. Lettvin: Warren as a Teacher

  31. Manuel Blum: Notes on McCulloch-Pitts’ A Logical Calculus of the Ideas Immanent in Nervous Activity

  32. Michael Arbib: Comments on McCulloch-Pitts’ A Logical Calculus of the Ideas Immanent in Nervous Activity

  33. A Logical Calculus of the Ideas Immanent in Nervous Activity [51]

  34. Rook McCulloch: On F.S.C. Northrop

  35. F.S.C. Northrup: On W.S. McCulloch

  36. A Statistical Consequence of the Logical Calculus of Nervous Nets [52]

  37. Rapid Changes in the O2 Tension of Cerebral Cortex during Sleep Induced Convulsions [55]

  38. Norman Geschwind: McCulloch’s Publication on Mapping of Cortical Connections by Strychnine Neuronography


  1. Functional Organization of the Medial Aspect of the Primate Cortex [56]

  2. The Functional Organization of the Cerebral Cortex [57]

  3. Cortico-Cortical Connections [58]

  4. Physiological Neuronography of Some Cortico-Subcortical Connections in the Chimpanzee 62]

  5. The Modern Concept of Schizophrenia [65]

  6. Changes of Noble-Metal Electrode EMF of Cerebral Cortex [66]

  7. A Heterarchy of Values Determined by the Topology of Nervous Nets [67]

  8. A Letter to the Editor [68]

  9. Michael Arbib: A Note on A Heterarchy of Values

  10. Rapid Changes in Cerebral Oxygen Tension Induced by Altering the Oxygenation and Circulation of the Blood [69]

  11. A Cortico-Bulbo-Reticular Pathway from Area 4-s [70]

  12. The Projection of the Frontal Lobe of the Hypothalamus [71]

  13. A Suppressor Cerebello-Bulbo-Reticular Pathway from Anterior Lobe and Paramedian Lobules [72]

  14. Sundry Changes in Physiology of Cerebral Cortex Following Rapid Injection of Sodium Cyanide [74]

  15. Valentino Braitenberg: Comments on Modes of Functional Organization of the Cerebral Cortex

  16. Modes of Functional Organization of the Cerebral Cortex [75]

  17. Michael Arbib: A Note on How We Know Universals

  18. Jerome Y. Lettvin: Warren and Walter

  19. How We Know Universals: The Perception of Auditory and Visual Forms [76]

  20. The Statistical Organization of Nervous Activity [80]

  21. A Recapitulation of the Theory with a Forecast of Several Extensions [81]

  22. Mallory Selfridge: W.S. McCulloch and the Foundations of AI

  23. The Brain as a Computing Machine [86]

  24. A Cerebello-Bulbo-Reticular Pathway for Suppression [88]

  25. Physiological Processes Underlying Psychoneurosis [90]

  26. How Nervous Structures Have Ideas [93]

  27. Machines That Think and Want [95]

  28. Why the Mind is in the Head [97/98]

  29. An Electrical Hypothesis of Central Inhibition and Facilitation [99]

  30. Positivity in Ventral Horn during Bulbar Reticular Inhibition of Motoneurons [99.1]

  31. Brain and Behavior [100]

  32. Donald M. Mackay: Introductory Note to The Limiting Information Capacity of a Neuronal Link

  33. The Limiting Information Capacity of a Neuronal Link [104]

  34. A Confession of Ignorance [105]

  35. The Past of a Delusion [107]

  36. Jack Cowan: Epilogue


  1. Heinz von Foerster: Circular Causality

  2. Introductory Remarks [109]

  3. Summary of the Points of Agreement Reached in the Previous Nine Conferences on Cybernetics [110]

  4. Investigation on Synaptic Transmission [108]

  5. The Colloquy of Living Things [162]

  6. Knower Known . . . [216]

  7. Through the Den of the Metaphysician [120]

  8. M. Vasalis: Introduction to Poetry

  9. The Natural Fit [143]

  10. Poetry

  11. One Word After Another [215]

  12. Mysterium Iniquitatis of Sinful Man Aspiring into the Place of God [124]

  13. Information in the Head [116/117]

  14. R.C. Gesteland: The Olfactory Adventure

  15. P.D. Wall: An Assessment of the Significance of the Physiological Contributions after 1950

  16. Reflex Inhibition by Dorsal Root Interaction [127]

  17. Effects of Strychnine with Special Reference to Spinal Afferent Fibers [128]

  18. The Terminal Arborization of the Cat’s Pyramidal Tract Determined by a New Technique [129]

  19. Limits on Nerve Impulse Transmission [130]

  20. Toward Some Circuitry of Ethical Robots [133]

  21. Factors Limiting the Maximum Impulse Transmitting Ability of an Afferent System of Nerve Fibers [136]

  22. The Biologist, the Physicist and the Engineer [138a]

  23. Biological Computers [138b]

  24. Membrane Currents in Clamped Vertebrate Nerve [139]

  25. Jack Cowan: Neuronal Nets

  26. The Stability of Biological Systems [140]

  27. Agathe Tyche, of Nervous Nets – the Lucky Reckoners [144]


  1. What the Frog’s Eye Tells the Frog’s Brain [146]

  2. Two Remarks on the Visual System of the Frog [155]

  3. The Reliability of Biological Systems [149]

  4. Where is Fancy Bred? [152]

  5. What is a Number That a Man May Know It, and a Man That He May Know a Number? [153]

  6. Abracadabra [154]

  7. The Utility of Anastomotic Nets [157]

  8. Neurological Models and Integrated Processes [158]

  9. The Imitation of One Form of Life by Another – Biomimesis [159]

  10. Anastomoic Nets Combating Noise [160]

  11. Reliable Systems Using Unreliable Units [170]

  12. J.D. Fortuyn: Reticular Formation and Choice of Behaviour

  13. The Command and Control System of the Vertebrates [182]

  14. Regenerative Loops [205]

  15. A. Scheibel: Warren and the Brain Stem Reticular Core

  16. The Reticular Formation Command and Control System [208]

  17. Control of Posture and Motion [210]

  18. M.A. Arbib: Note on Control of Posture and Motion

  19. Studies in Carbohydrate Metabulism [169]

  20. Norbert Wiener and the Art of Theory [171]

  21. What’s in the Brain That Ink May Character? [172]

  22. W.L. Kilmer: Postscript to: What’s in the Brain That Ink May Character?

  23. Cybernetics Problems of Learning [183]

  24. S. Kauffman: Behavior of Gene Nets

  25. Circularities in Nets and the Concept of Functional Matrices [199]

  26. Of I and It [201]

  27. Ragnar Rokr: The Effects of Conscioius Purpose on Human Adaptation [211]



List of Photographs

Biographical Dates

Publications by W.S. McCulloch


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