Friday, May 18, 2012

Jerome Lettvin 1920- 2011 Bexley Housemaster and MIT EECS faculty

I just read about the passing of Jerry Lettvin in the Spring 2012 MIT EECS Connector. I didn't know anything about him when I was at MIT 1976-1981 except that he was the funky hippie housemaster of eclectic Bexley Hall who treated us to lox and bagels, which I still eat every now and then even after I moved back to Seattle. Only in 2012 at his passing give me a chance to understand who he was and what he was about.

MIT EECS AnnouncementJerome Lettvin, MIT professor emeritus, dies at 91

Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Jerome Lettvin, 1920 - 2011, early pioneer in 'bio/neuro-electrical engineering' . . . Full Announcement

Full Announcement

Jerome Lettvin, professor emeritus of electrical and bioengineering and communications physiology and principal investigator with the MIT Research Laboratory of Electronics, died on April 23 in Hingham, Massachusetts. He was 91.
As noted in the MIT News Office, April 29 obituary, Lettvin came to MIT in 1951 under Jerry Wiesner, then-director of the Research Laboratory of Electronics, who later served as MIT president. Along with Lettvin, Wiesner also hired Walter Pitts and Warren McCulloch, creating what would become a prolific team of neurophysiology researchers.
Lettvin is most noted for publication in 1959 of the paper "What the frog's eye tells the frog's brain." The paper became one of the most cited papers in the Science Citation Index. Lettvin and his team, including mathematician (and lifelong associate) Walter Pitts, Humberto Maturana, Warren McCulloch and Oliver Selfridge, demonstrated how specific neurons respond to specific features of a visual stimulus. Early skepticism on this new explanation gave way to a profound and lasting impact on the fields of neuroscience, physiology and cognition.
In addition to his work on vision, Lettvin carried out many important studies of the neurophysiology of the spinal cord and information processing in nerve cell axons. Though he is best known for his work in neurology and physiology, he also published on philosophy, politics and poetry.
Lettvin, popularly known as “Jerry,” was born in Chicago on Feb. 23, 1920, to Ukrainian immigrant parents. In an autobiography written for the Society for Neuroscience, he called his Humboldt Park surroundings “materially poor but culturally rich” — indeed, Lettvin had his heart set on being a poet before his mother made the “irrevocable decision” that he was to be a doctor.
At MIT, Jerry Lettvin was noted for his extemporaneous speaking--most notably his debate in 1967 with Timothy Leary. Lettvin filled in at the last moment in what would become a highly publicized and later repeated set of arguments against using 'mind-bending drugs.' In Lettvin's words: "The kick is cheap. The ecstasy is cheap. And you are settling for a permanently second-rate world by the complete abrogation of the intellect."
Maggie Lettvin recalled her husband's mentoring and lecturing for a history of science class at MIT: “He’d go in there and talk for three or four hours and the kids would bring their girlfriends, lunches, and just sit there forever.”
He and Maggie served as housemasters of the Bexley Hall dorm in the late 1960s and early 1970s, a time that was “both enlivening and exhausting” for them, he wrote in his autobiography. He was also one of the early directors of the Concourse Program, a freshman learning community that bridges the humanities and the sciences by exploring connections between disciplines such as literature and physics, or history and mathematics.
Lettvin is survived by his wife, Maggie; his three children, David, Ruth and Jonathan; and his six grandchildren. A memorial service is being planned; for more information contact Gill Pratt ’83, SM ’87, PhD ’89, a former MIT associate professor and former graduate student of Lettvin’s.
Read more:
MIT News Office, April 29, 2011, Emily Finn: "Jerome Lettvin, MIT professor emeritus, dies at 91. Dynamic cognitive scientist made key contributions to neurophysiology and vision science."
Jerome Lettvin from Wikipedia

(this picture of Jerry and Maggie from the backside is what they looked like in the 70s)

What the frog’s eye tells the frog’s brain

The memorial for Jerry Lettvin — a full day of stories, scientific talks, and maybe even some performances — happens this Sunday (September 25), at MIT, in [building/room] 32-123, starting at 9:00 am. The photo here shows Maggie and Jerry, way back when. Maggie will be at the memorial.
In case you’ve never seen it, here’s Jerry‘s most famous paper [as a downloadable PDF]: “What the Frog’s Eye Tells the Frog’s Brain,” written with Humberto Maturana, Warren McCullough, and Walter Pitts, published in 1959. It opened a giant door in research on brains — human brains as well as frog brains. Here’s a passage from near the end of it:
What are the consequences of this work? Fundamentally, it shows that the eye speaks to the brain in a language already highly organized and interpreted, instead of transmitting some more or less accurate copy of the distribution of light on the receptors. As a crude analogy, suppose we have a man watching the clouds and reporting them to a weather station. If he is using a code, and one can see his portion of the sky too, then it is not difficult to find out what he is saying. It is certainly true that he is watching a distribution of light; nevertheless, local variations of light are not the terms in which he speaks nor the terms in which he is best understood. Indeed, if his vocabulary is restricted to types of things that he sees in the sky, trying to find his language by using flashes of light as stimuli will certainly fail.
Now, since the purpose of a frog’s vision is to get him food and allow him to evade predators no matter how bright or dim it is about him, it is not enough to know the reaction of his visual system to points of light. To get useful records from individual receptors (the rods and cones), assuming that they operate independently and under no reflex control, this stimulus may be adequate. But when one inspects responses that are a few nervous transformations removed from the receptors, as in the optic nerve, that same choice of stimulus is difficult to defend. It is equivalent to assuming that all of the interpretation is done further on in the nervous system. But, as we have seen, this is false.
Of course, that’s just one side of Jerry. There are many, many, many others, including Jerry and Walter’s first published paper, a hoax that got taken seriously, and this televised duel with Timothy Leary (who, you might not realize from watching the video, was one of Jerry’s many good friends). Jerry arrives a little more than half-way into the video: in 2005

Jerome Lettvin

(Man I must be old, because I remember these two when they were much, much younger in the 70s)


Jerry Lettvin worked at MIT in times when teaching and research were more flexible. He taught an afternoon class in the history of science that went on for hours because he paid no attention to the time. It was so popular that students would pack a lunch, bring their girl friends, and spend the afternoon listening to him.Jerry won acclaim for being the first person to measure the electric impulse from fine neurons. His work was published in a paper titled "What the Frog's Eye Tells the Frog's Brain" that has since become one of the most famous publications in the field.
I first met him in the 1970's when a friend and I walked into Jerry's office, unfamiliar and unannounced, and told him that we had heard that he could tell us something useful about science. The second time I saw him was in 2007, 25 years later when I spoke to him and his wife Maggie for this interview at their home outside of Boston.
Afterward: Jerry Lettvin died on Saturday April 23rd, 2011.
Interview Excerpts
Read the full interview :
"I started out as a poet and became a physician, then became an electrical engineer, then a neurobiologist. It was never with any sense of searching for what people wanted to know. It was just to understand the thing that I was looking at in a way that made sense. That is a far more difficult job than writing equations…""The interesting things were the problems: were there other ways in which you could express the problem such that analogies and concordances would pop up? It’s very much like listening to music and trying to decide what is meant doing it this way rather than that way. That is essentially the way that I’ve worked all my life. I haven’t been after prizes, just curiosity, that’s all…"
"You pass out after the first two breaths… and when you wake up it is an epiphany. Things stand out with such startling clarity that you cannot quite understand how it was that such a thing as this… was… not observed… For the next 12 hours Walter (Pitts) and I were walking in a world in which every single thing became completely clear. The clarity was the likes of which you don’t experience ordinarily… It’s at this point that curiosity overwhelms you…
"You see, you’re asking me how I go about things, I go about things in a way that has nothing to do with what universities teach. It’s very different from what universities tell you to do, what teachers tell you to do. You make it up as you go along, and god knows how it comes out; you don’t know…
"I’m a garbage picker-upper as a mode of science: I focus on the garbage truck. I look at the parts that others choose not to pay attention to. It’s interesting the number of things that are not paid attention to... absolutely astounding…"

Jerome Lettvin

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jerome Ysroael Lettvin

Jerome Lettvin in Building 20 at MIT in 1952 [1]
BornFebruary 23, 1920
Chicago, Illinois, USA
DiedApril 23, 2011 (aged 91)
Hingham, Massachusetts, USA
FieldsPsychiatry, Neuroscience, Philosophy, Electrical Engineering, Communications Physiology, Mythopoetry
InstitutionsRutgers (1988–2011)
MIT (1951–2011)
Stazione Zoologica
Manteno State Hospital (1948–1951)
University of Rochester (1947)
Alma materUniversity of Illinois (B.S., M.D. 1943)
Notable studentsNorman Geschwind[citation needed]
Known for"What the Frog's Eye Tells the Frog's Brain"
Leary-Lettvin debate
InfluencesNorbert Wiener
Warren McCulloch
Walter Pitts
Derek Denny-Brown
Santiago Ramón y Cajal
Charles Scott Sherrington
John Zachary Young[citation needed]
SpouseMaggie (1947–)
Jerome Ysroael Lettvin (February 23, 1920 – April 23, 2011) was a cognitive scientist and professor Emeritus of Electrical and Bioengineering and Communications Physiology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He is best known as the author of the 1959 paper, "What the frog's eye tells the frog's brain",[2] one of the most cited papers in the Science Citation Index. He wrote it along with Humberto MaturanaWarren McCulloch and Walter Pitts and in the paper they gave special thanks and mention to the work of Oliver Selfridge at MIT.[3] He carried out neurophysiological studies in the spinal cord, made the first demonstration of "feature detectors" in the visual system, and studied information processing in the terminal branches of single axons. Around 1969, he originated the term grandmother cell[4] to illustrate the logical inconsistency of the concept.
Jerome Lettvin was popularly known as "Jerry", and was the author of many published articles on subjects varying from neurology and physiology to philosophyand politics.[5] Among his many activities at MIT, he served as one of the first directors of the Concourse Program, and, along with his wife Maggie, houseparent of the Bexley dorm.



[edit]Early life

Lettvin was born February 23, 1920 in Chicago as eldest of four children (including pianist Theodore Lettvin) to Solomon and Fanny Lettvin. Trained as a neurologist and psychiatrist at the University of Illinois (B.S., M.D. 1943), he practiced medicine at the Battle of the Bulge during World War II.[6] After the war, he continued practicing neurology and researching nervous systems, partly at Boston City Hospital, and then at MIT with Walter Pitts and Warren McCulloch under Norbert Wiener.

[edit]Scientific philosophy

Lettvin with Walter Pitts.
Lettvin considered any experiment a failure from which the experimental animal does not recover to a comfortable happy life. He was one of the very few neurophysiologists who successfully recorded pulses from unmyelinated vertebrate axons.
His main approach to scientific observation seemed to be "reductio ad absurdum"; or find the least observation that contradicts a key assumption in the proposed theory. This has led to unusual experiments being performed (some are listed below). In his best-known paper, "What the frog's eye tells the frog's brain", he took a major risk proposing feature detectors in the retina. When presenting this paper at a conference he was laughed off the stage by his peers. Yet for the next ten years this paper was the most cited paper in all of science. So a corollary approach to finding contradictions was taking risks; the bigger the risk, the likelier a new finding. This he promoted in all his students. Robert Provine quotes him as asking "If it does not change everything, why waste your time doing the study?"
He made a careful study of the work of Leibniz, discovering that he had constructed a mechanical computer in the 17th century, amongst other creations hundreds of years ahead of his time. Jerome Lettvin was also known for his friendship with the genius cognitive scientist and logician named Walter Pitts, a polymath who first showed the relationship between the philosophy of Leibniz, universal computing and "A Logical Calculus Immanent in Nervous Activity".
He continued to research the properties of nervous systems throughout his life, most recently focusing on ion dynamics in axon cytoskeleton.
He worried about how scientists approached their own work as evidenced in this playful translation he made from Morgenstern's poetry.

After many "if"s and "but"s,
emendations, notes, and cuts,

they bring their theory, complete,
to lay, for Science, at his feet.

But Science, sad to say it, he
seldom heeds the laity

abstractedly he flips his hand,
mutters "metaphysic" and

bends himself again to start
another curve on another chart.

"Come," says Pitts, "his line is laid;
the only points he'll miss, we've made."
(This, like his other translations of Morgenstern's poems[7] from German, retains the playfulness of the originals.)

[edit]Unusual experiments

Lettvin in his Faraday cage in Building 20 at MIT in 1952 without which his earlier Remak fiber recordings would not have been possible.
vertebrate unmyelinated axons exhibit sub-millisecond triphasic spikes
action potentials found at myelinated nodes of Ranvier are altogether absent in Remak fibers
a cut optic nerve trained to the olfactory lobe regrows, remapping the retina
(Functional Properties of regenerated axons, Brain Research 1995)
senses appear to direct brain growth rather than the reverse
axonal stimulation backfires into the cell body
action potentials can travel from axons to the axon hillock and into the cell
stimulating the bulbo-reticular inhibitory system stops strychnine convulsions
reflexes have system-wide attenuation controls
axon pulse intervals can be separated into bands;[8]
some form of information is encoded in pulse intervals
color constancy derives from boundaries and vertices imaged on the retina
(The Colors of Things, Scientific American 1986)
color is relational, not related to wavelength
images stationary on the retina fade to invisible
temporal or spatial transients are critical to vision
visible insects cause no nervous activity in a frog that sees a duck
attention obeys hierarchical rules
While working in the Marine Zoological Station in Naples, Italy, he had a 30-foot-long (9.1 m) room in which octopus holding tanks were kept, with fine mesh metal screens to keep them from escaping. One tank, at the far end, held his youngest son Jonathan's pet octopus named juvenile delinquent (JD).[9] One day he teased JD with a stick. The next morning, his son and he came to the door and noticed a puddle under the door. Fearing the worst (broken tanks), he opened the door, and was greeted by a blast of water in his face (but not his son's face). From across the room, and through the screen, JD had perfect aim, after which he jetted to the bottom of the tank, inked it up, and hid for the rest of the day. Still confused about the water under the door, Lettvin looked at the back of the door and saw a spot of water at the height of his face. JD had been practicing for revenge. From this and other experiences, Lettvin concluded that octopodes are highly intelligent, and from that time on he never ate octopus again, out of respect for octopodes as colleagues.
Later repeated by a pair of Russian scientists,[10] Lettvin demonstrated that a headless cat retains all of its normal functions like standing, scratching an itch, walking on a treadmill, and adjusting posture to prevent falling over.


Lettvin was a firm advocate of individual rights and heterogeneous society. His father nurtured these views with ideas from Kropotkin's book Mutual Aid. He has been expert witness in trials in both the U.S. and in Israel always on behalf of individual rights.
During the antiwar demonstrations of the 1960s he helped negotiate agreements between police and protesters, and took part in the 1968 student takeover of the MIT Student Center in support of an AWOL soldier.[11] He deplored when law is made using false science and false statistics, or when proper observations are distorted for advantage.
When the American Academy of Arts and Sciences withdrew its award of the annual Emerson-Thoreau medal from Ezra Pound for his leanings during World War II, Lettvin resigned from the academy, in which letter he wrote "It is not art that concerns you but politics, not taste but special interest, not excellence but propriety."


On May 3, 1967 [12][1][13], in the Kresge Auditorium at MIT, Lettvin debated with Timothy Leary (a licensed psychologist) about the merits and dangers of LSD.
Timothy Leary took the position that LSD is a beneficial tool in exploring consciousness and should be utilized as such. Jerome Lettvin took the position that LSD is a dangerous molecule that shouldn't be used.
He was a regular invitee at the Ig Nobel Prize ceremony as "the world's smartest man" to debate extemporaneously against groups of people on their own subjects of expertise.

[edit]Published papers

  • Year Title, Publication, Issue; Contributing Authors[5]
  • 1943 A mathematical theory of the affective psychoses, Bulletin of Mathematical Biophysics, Vol. 5; (with Pitts)
  • 1948 Somatic functions of the central nervous system, Annual Review of Physiology Vol. 10; (with McCulloch)
  • 1948 The path of suppression in the spinal grey matter, Federation Proceedings, Vol. 7, No. 1, March; (with McCulloch)
  • 1950 An electrical hypothesis of central inhibition and facilitation, Proceedings of the Association for Research in Nervous and Mental Diseases, Vol. 30, December; (with McCulloch, Pitts, and Dell)
  • 1950 Positivity in ventral horn during bulbar reticular inhibition of motoneurons Federation Proceedings, Vol. 9, No. 1, March; (with Dell and McCulloch)
  • 1951 Changes produced in the central nervous system by ultrasound, Science, Vol. 114, No. 2974; (with Wall, Fry, Stephens, and Tucker)
  • 1952 Sources and sinks of current in the spinal cord, Federation Proceedings, Vol. 11, No. 1, March; (with Pitts and Brazier)
  • 1953 Comparaison entre les machines a calculer et le cerveau, Les machines à calculer et la pensée humaine, Vo.l. 37, pp. 425–443; (with McCulloch, Pitts, and Dell)
  • 1953 On microelectrodes for plotting currents in nervous tissue, Proceedings of the Physiological Society, Vol. 122; (with Howland, McCulloch, Pitts, and Wall)
  • 1954 Maps derived by bipolar microelectrode stimulation within the spinal cord, Federation Proceedings, Vol. 13, March; (with Pitts, McCulloch, Wall, and Howland)
  • 1955 Physiology of a primary chemoreceptor unit, Science, Vol. 122, No. 3166, September; (with Hodgson and Roeder)
  • 1955 Reflex inhibition by dorsal root interaction, Journal of Neurophysiology', vol.18; (with Howland, McCulloch, Pitts, and Wall)
  • 1955 Effects of strychnine with special reference to spinal afferent fibres, Epilepsia, Series III, Vol. 4; (with Wall, McCulloch, and Pitts)
  • 1955 The terminal arborisation of the cat's pyramidal tract determined by a new technique, The Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine, Vol. 28, Nos. 3-4, Dec.-Feb.; (with Wall, McCulloch, and Pitts)
  • 1956 Excitability changes in anatomical components of the monosynaptic are following tetanic stimulation, Federation Proceedings, Vol. 15, No. 1, March; (with McCulloch and Pitts)
  • 1956 Limits on nerve impulse transmission, IRE Convention Record, National, Part 4, March 19–20; (with Wall, Pitts, and McCulloch)
  • 1956 Central effects of strychnine on spinal afferent fibres, A.M.A. Archives of Neurology and Psychiatry, Vol. 75: 323-324; (with McCulloch, Pitts, and Wall)
  • 1957 Membrane currents in clamped vertebrate nerve, Nature, Vol. 180, pp. 1290–1291, Dec. 7; (with McCulloch, and Pitts)
  • 1956/1957 Footnotes on a headstage, IRE Transactions on Medical Electronics; (with Howland and Gesteland)
  • 1956 Evidence that cut optic nerve fibers in a frog regenerate to their proper places in the tectum, Science, Vol. 130, No. 3390, December; (with Maturana, McCulloch, and Pitts)
  • 1959 How seen movement appears in the frog's optic nerve, Federation Proceedings Vol. 18, No. 1, March; (with Maturana, Pitts, and McCulloch)
  • 1959 What the frog's eye tells the frog's brainProceedings of the IRE, Vol. 47, No. 11, November; (with Maturana, McCulloch, and Pitts)
  • 1959 Comments on microelectrodes, Proceedings of the IRE, Vol. 47, No. 11, November; (with Gesteland, Howland, and Pitts)
  • 1959 Number of fibres in the optic nerve and the number of ganglion cells in the retina of anurans, Nature, Vol. 183, pp. 1406–1407, May 16; (with Maturana)
  • 1959 Bridge for measuring the impedance of metal microelectrodes, The Review of Scientific Instruments, Vol. 30, No. 4, April; (with Gesteland and Howland)
  • 1960 Anatomy and physiology of vision in the frog (Rana pipiens), The Journal of General Physiology, Vol. 43, No. 6, Supplement pp. 129–175; (withMaturana, McCulloch, and Pitts)
  • 1961 Two remarks on the visual system of the frog, Research Laboratory of Electronics, MIT, Vol. 38; (with Maturana, Pitts, and McCulloch)
  • 1962 Translations of Morgenstern's poetryThe Fat Abbot, Fall Winter 1962 (Retaining the playfulness of Morgenstern's originals.)
  • 1963 Odor specificites of the frog's olfactory receptors, Proceedings of the First International Symposium on Olfaction and Taste(Pergamon Press); (with Gesteland, Pitts, and Rojas)
  • 1964 A theory of passive ion flux through axon membranes, Nature, Vol. 202, No. 4939, pp. 1338–1339, June; (with Pickard, McCulloch, and Pitts)
  • 1964 Microelectrodes research laboratory of electronics, MIT Encyclopedia of Electrochemistry, (Reinhold Publishing Corporation: New York), pp. 822–826; (with Gesteland, Howland, and Pitts)
  • 1964 Receptor model of the frog's nose, NEREM Record; (with Gesteland)
  • 1964 Caesium ions do not pass the membrane of the giant axon, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 52, No. 5, pp. 1177–1183; (with Pickard, Moore, Takata, Pooler, and Bernstein)
  • 1964? Lanthanum simulates high calcium and reduces conductance changes in nerve membranes, XXIII International Congress of Physiological Sciences ; (with Moore, Takata, and Pickard)
  • 1964 Passive transport of ions across nerve membranes, Minutes of the APS-NES 1964 Spring Meeting of the New England Section, 4 April; (with Pickard)
  • 1964 Experiments in perception, Tech Engineering News, November;
  • 1965 Chemical transmission in the nose of the frog, Journal of Physiology, Vol. 181, pp. 525–559; (with Gesteland, and Pitts)
  • 1965 Octopus optic responses, Experimental Neurology, Vol. 12, No. 3, July; (with Boycott, Maturana, and Wall)
  • 1965 Glass-coated tungsten microelectrodes, Science, Vol. 148, No.3676, pp. 1462–1464; (with Baldwin, and Frenk)
  • 1965 Speculations on smell, Cold Spring Harbor Symposia on Quantitative Biology, Vol. 30; (with Gesteland)
  • 1965 General discussion: early receptor potential, Cold Spring Harbor Symposia on Quantitative Biology, vol. 30; (with Platt, Wald, and Brown)
  • 1966 Ionic conductance changes in lobster axon membrane when lanthanum is substituted for calcium, Journal of General Physiology, Vol. 50, Number 2, November; (with Takata, Pickard, and Moore)
  • 1966 Alkali cation selectivity of a squid axon membrane, N.Y. Academy of Sciences, vol. 137, pp. 818–829; (with Moore, Anderson, Blaustein, Takata, Pickard, Bernstein, and Pooler)
  • 1966 A demonstration of ion-exchange phenomena in phospholipid mono-molecular films, Nature, Vol. 209, No. 5026, pp. 886–887, February; (with Rojas and Pickard)
  • 1967 You can't even step in the same river once, Journal of the American Museum of Natural History , Vol. 76, No. 8, October;
  • 1967 The colors of colored things, MIT Research Laboratory of Electronics Quarterly Progress Reports, No. 87, October 15, 1967
  • 1968 A code in the nose, Cybernetic Problems in Bionics (Gordon and Breach Science Publishers); (with Gesteland, Pitts, and Chung)
  • 1968 Pure renaissance, Natural History, June–July, p. 62
  • 1969 The annotated octopus, Natural History, Vol. 78, No. 9, p. 10; (Sokolski with notes by Lettvin)
  • 1970 Multiple meaning in single visual units, Brain, Behavior, and Evolution, vol.3, pp. 72–101; (with Chung and Raymond)
  • 1970 The rise and fall of progress, Natural History, Vol. 79, No. 3, pp. 80–82, March
  • 1972 Scratched and chiseled marks of man, Natural History
  • 1974 The CLOOGE: a simple device for interspike interval analysis, Proceedings of the Physiological Society, vol. 239, pp. 63–66, February; (with Chung and Raymond)
  • 1976 A physical model for the passage of ions through an ion-specific channel - I. The sodium-like channel, Mathematical Biosciences, vol.32, pp. 37–50; (with Pickard)
  • 1976 Probability of conduction deficit as related to fiber length in random-distribution models of peripheral neuropathies, Journal of the Neurological Sciences, Vol. 29, pp. 39–53; (with Waxman, Brill, Geschwind, and Sabin)
  • 1976 The use of myth, Technology Review, Vol. 78(7), pp. 52–57
  • 1976 On seeing sidelong, The Sciences, Vol. 16, No. 4, July/August
  • 1977 The gorgon's eye, Technology Review, Vol. 80(2), pp. 74–83
  • 1977 Freedoms and constraints in color vision, Brain Theory Newsletter, Vol. 3, No. 2, December; (with Linden)
  • 1978 Aftereffects of activity in peripheral axons as a clue to nervous coding, Physiology and Pathobiology of Axons, edited by Waxman (Raven Press: New York); (with Raymond)
  • 1978 Relation of the e-wave to ganglion cell activity and rod responses in the frog, Vision Research, Vol. 18, pp. 1181–1188; (with Newman)
  • 1980 Anatomy and physiology of a binocular system in the frog Rana pipiens, Brain Research Vol. 192, pp. 313–325; (with Gruberg)
  • 1983 Processing of polarized light by squid photoreceptors, Nature, Vol. 304, pp. 534–536; (with Saidel and MacNichol)
  • 1986 The colors of things, Scientific American, Vol.255.3, pp. 84–91; September (with Brou, Philippe, Sciascia, and Linden)
  • 1995 Functional Properties of Regenerated Optic Axons Terminating in the Primary Olfactory Cortex


  1. a b "Jerome Lettvin Stories"More Data, More Noise: A Celebration of the 60th Birthday of Jerome Y. Lettvin, MIT, February 1980.
  2. ^ Lettvin, J.Y; Maturana, H.R.; McCulloch, W.S.; Pitts, W.H., What the frog's eye tells the frog's brainProceedings of the IRE, Vol. 47, No. 11, November 1959
  3. ^ "We are particularly grateful to O. G. Selfridge, whose experiments with mechanical recognizers of pattern helped drive us to this work and whose criticism in part shaped its course."
  4. ^ Gross, Charles G., Genealogy of the "Grandmother Cell", NEUROSCIENTIST 8(5):512–518, 2002. DOI: 10.1177/107385802237175
  5. a b Jerome Lettvin page
  6. ^ Squire, Larry R., The history of neuroscience in autobiography, Volume 2, Society for Neuroscience, 1998. Cf. pp.223-243 on Jerome Lettvin.
  7. ^ The Fat Abbot, 1962
  8. ^ Multiple meaning in single visual units
  9. ^ Jonathan D. Lettvin Home Page
  10. ^ Neurons and Networks Second Edition, John Dowling, Belknap Press of Harvard University Press 2001, page 307, Figure 13.5
  11. ^ "Six-Day M.I.T. Sanctuary Ends Quietly Without Bust"The Harvard Crimson, Monday, November 04, 1968
  12. ^ "Leary and Lettvin Clash on Drugs In M.I.T. Debate"The Harvard Crimson, Thursday, May 4, 1967
  13. ^ Collins, Bud"LSD Lion loses to M.I.T. Mauler"The Boston Globe, November 24, 1967. N.B. later reprinted in Collins, Bud, "LSD Lion loses to M.I.T. Mauler"Psychiatric Quarterly, Volume 42, Number 1 (1968), 104-106, DOI: 10.1007/BF01563956

[edit]Further reading

  1. MIT EECS - Announcement Full Announcement
    May 4, 2011 – Jerome Lettvin1920 - 2011, early pioneer in 'bio/neuro-electrical ... As noted in the MIT News Office, April 29 obituary, Lettvin came to MIT in ...
  2. MIT EECS - Announcement Full Announcement
    Sep 23, 2011 – Memorial Service for Jerome Lettvin1920 - 2011, Sunday, Sept. ... A memorial service for professor emeritus Jerome Lettvin, who died in ...
  3. Jerry Lettvin 1920 -- 2011: Jerry
    David Lettvin
    Apr 23, 2011 – Jerry Lettvin 1920 -- 2011 ... At about 12:30 today, April 23 2011, Professor Jerome Y. Lettvin died peacefully ... ...
  4. Jerry Lettvin 1920 -- 2011: May 2011
    David Lettvin
    May 20, 2011 – Jerry Lettvin 1920 -- 2011 ... Posted by David Lettvin at 10:50 PM 0 comments ..... Jerome Y. Lettvin, Professor of Electrical Engineering and ...
  5. Images of Jerome Lettvin - Mitra Images :: Image Resources On The ...
    Students, colleagues, and friends ...; Jerry Lettvin 1920 -- 2011. A memorial page. Please send your ...
    Isaac Asimov & Jerome Lettvin
    Isaac Asimov and Jerry Lettvin

    (This looks like it was taken in the early 70s, just a few years before I showed up in 1976)

  6. Jerome Lettvin Videos - Mitra Videos :: Video Resources On The Net
    20+ items – List of videos about jerome lettvin collected from many ...
    Jerome LettvinWikipedia, the free encyclopediaJeromeYsroael
    JerryLettvin1920 -- 2011A memorial ...
  7. Lettvin Leary Debate Videos - Mitra Videos :: Video Resources On ...
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