Renowned Neuroscientist and Host of The Brain
—The New York Times
Often called the Carl Sagan of neuroscience, Eagleman—a bestselling author—deals with everything from how the brain rewires itself to why art and science must learn from each other. In his spectacular PBS series The Brain (Oct. 2015), he will provide viewers with a deeper understanding of themselves, the unseen world of decisions, and of modern neuroscience. Known for his erudite, engaging style, his unique and active exploration of ideas, and his ability to bring science discovery to everyday life, Eagleman prompts audiences to recognize the beauty of the brain, question what we perceive as reality, and re-think what we know about human nature. He received a standing ovation at TED2015 for his talk on whether we can create new human senses.
Eagleman is winner of the McGovern Award for Excellence in Biomedical Communication, a Next Generation Texas Fellow, Vice-Chair on the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Neuroscience & Behaviour, a research fellow in the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, and a board member of The Long Now Foundation. He was named Science Educator of the Year by the Society for Neuroscience, and was featured as one of the year’s Brightest Idea Guys by Italy’s Style magazine. He writes regularly for The New York Times, The Atlantic, Wired, Discover, Slate, and New Scientist, and is a repeat guest on NPR, discussing both science and literature—his twin passions. He is founder of the company BrainCheck, the scientific advisor for the television drama Perception, and has been profiled on the Colbert Report, NOVA Science Now, The New Yorker, and CNN’s Next List. He appears regularly on radio and television to discuss literature and science.
Your Brain on Social Media
What do advances in neuroscience reveal about the way our brains—and our conscious and subconscious selves—engage with social media? In a breathtaking talk, David Eagleman draws on an array of freshly-minted research to show us how and why we react so powerfully, and even so addictively, to this important new technology. What is so appealing about social media that has made Tweeters, followers, and "friends" out of billions of people worldwide? Our brains, Eagleman explains, are simply hardwired to "like" many aspects of social media: the sharing, the linking, the constant presence of your friends. For companies to dominate this space, they must understand what these intrinsically satisfying engagement points are—and Eagleman is among the first to dive in and investigate. Reputation and trust, so fragile in the real world, gain a whole new importance in social media. And notions of cool trump matters of cost. Cutting through speculation, anecdotal evidence, and fuzzy marketing speak, Eagleman makes vivid and practical sense of the brave new field of social neuroscience. He shows you why our brains can't help but love social media, and how to reconfigure your efforts to make use of this stunning new knowledge.
Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain
If the conscious mind—the part you consider you—accounts for only a fraction of the brain's function, what is all the rest doing? This is the question that David Eagleman has spent years researching and which he answers in this up-to-the-minute talk, chock-full of verve, wit, and startling new discoveries. Our behavior, thoughts, and experiences are inseparably linked to a vast, wet, chemical-electrical network called the nervous system. The machinery is utterly alien to us, and yet, somehow, it is us. Eagleman takes us into the depths of the subconscious to answer some of our deepest mysteries. Why does the conscious mind know so little about itself? What do Ulysses and the subprime mortgage meltdown have in common? Why is it so difficult to keep a secret? Eagleman charts new terrain in neuroscience and helps us understand how our perceptions of ourselves and our world result from the hidden workings of the most wondrous thing we have ever discovered: the human brain.
Livewired: How the Brain Rewrites its Own Circuitry
The brain is often portrayed as an organ with different regions dedicated to specific tasks. But that textbook model is wrong. The brain is not hardwired, David Eagleman contends—it is livewired. In this talk, Eagleman presents his new theory of infotropism: why the fundamental principle of the brain is information maximization. In the same way that plants grow toward light, brains reconfigure to boost data from the outside world. Follow Eagleman on a thrilling journey to discover how a child can function with one half of his brain removed, how a blind man can hit a baseball via a sensor on his tongue, how new devices and body plans can enhance our natural capacities, how paralyzed people will soon be able to dance in thought-controlled robotic suits, how we can build the next generation of devices based on the principles of the brain, and what all this has to do with why we dream at night. You will never think about your brain in the same way again.
The Brain Science of Getting Things Done
David Eagleman examines the contracts people make with their future selves—"I'll eat this cake if I promise to go to the gym tomorrow"—and pinpoints how this can be leveraged effectively when it comes to getting things done. (This talk expands upon a popular New York Times Op-Ed in which he discussed the concept of a Ulysses contract, and suggested that president Obama was setting up the nation in such a contract by committing to a deadline for withdrawal from Afghanistan.) In a fast-paced talk, Eagleman explores the powers and tyrannies of deadlines, how brains simulate the future (sometimes badly), why holding "open loops" is costly, and why the enemy of productivity is unpredictability.
Emotion, Motivation, and Reputation: What Matters to the Mind of the Consumer
What motivates people to care about a brand? Why do people show loyalty to corporations? What is the role of emotion in decision-making? Brain scientist David Eagleman marshals surprising new data from social neuroscience to show that people use the same brain circuitry to relate to brands as they do to one another. This suggests strong motivation for companies to work on reputation, loyalty and trust—subconscious issues which powerfully navigate customer decisions, but are missed by traditional methods of market research. Traditional research fails for two reasons: (1) it usually probes the conscious mind of the customer, which is not, in the end, what drives actual purchasing decisions, and (2) it is geared to measure the immediate influence of branding changes, while investments in social reputation pay off on a slower time scale. In this talk, Dr. Eagleman translates cutting-edge neuroscience into everyday examples to illuminate customer motivations, emotions, and decision-making from new angles.
The Cognitive Neuroscience of Financial Decisions
Why do people store their money in Christmas accounts that earn no interest? What do Odysseus and the sub-prime mortgage meltdown have in common? What is the cost of time, brain-wise? Do impulsive people view waiting as having a higher cost? Why do patients on Parkinson's medications become compulsive gamblers? How could President Obama have improved the delivery of his 18 month promise to withdraw from Afghanistan? What happens when two people enter economic exchanges, and what have we learned about the roles of trust and reputation? How can we take lessons from brain science to make better decisions? In this talk, Dr. Eagleman translates cutting-edge neuroscience into everyday examples to illuminate financial decision-making from new angles.
"David was great! The feedback has been outstanding and was especially helpful to the smaller project team working on the store traffic issue. Thanks for all your help in making this happen, I couldn't be more pleased with the way it turned out!
Virginia Association of Independent Schools
David Eagleman was one of the most engaging, energetic, intelligent speakers we have had as a keynoter. He is approachable and sincere. We would readily ask him back again without any reservation!
Livewired: How the Brain Rewrites Its Own Circuitry
The brain is often portrayed as an organ with different regions dedicated to specific tasks. But that textbook model is wrong. The brain is a dynamic system, constantly modifying its own circuitry to match the demands of the environment and the body in which it finds itself. If you were to zoom into the living, microscopic cosmos inside the skull, you would witness tentacle-like extensions grasping, bumping, sensing, searching for the right connections to establish or forego, like denizens of a country establishing friendships, marriages, neighborhoods, political parties, vendettas, and social networks. It’s a mysterious kind of computational material, an organic three-dimensional textile that adjusts itself to operate with maximum efficiency.
The brain is not hardwired, David Eagleman contends—it is livewired. With his new theory of infotropism, Eagleman demonstrates why the fundamental principle of the brain is information maximization: in the same way that plants grow toward light, brains reconfigure to boost data from the outside world. Follow Eagleman on a thrilling journey to discover how a child can function with one half of his brain removed, how a blind man can hit a baseball via a sensor on his tongue, how new devices and body plans can enhance our natural capacities, how paralyzed people will soon be able to dance in thought-controlled robotic suits, how we can build the next generation of devices based on the principles of the brain, and what all this has to do with why we dream at night.
The Brain: The Story of You
Locked in the silence and darkness of your skull, your brain fashions the rich narratives of your reality and your identity. Join renowned neuroscientist David Eagleman for a journey into the questions at the mysterious heart of our existence.
What is reality? Who are “you”? How do you make decisions? Why does your brain need other people? How is technology poised to change what it means to be human? In the course of his investigations, Eagleman guides us through the world of extreme sports, criminal justice, facial expressions, genocide, brain surgery, gut feelings, robotics, and the search for immortality. Strap in for a whistle-stop tour into the inner cosmos. In the infinitely dense tangle of billions of brain cells and their trillions of connections, something emerges that you might not have expected to see in there: you.
This is the story of how your life shapes your brain, and how your brain shapes your life.
(A companion to the six-part PBS series. Color illustrations throughout.)
“A stunning exploration of the we behind the I. Eagleman reveals, with his typical grace and eloquence, all the neural magic tricks behind the cognitive illusion we call reality.” —Jonah Lehrer
If the conscious mind—the part you consider you—is just the tip of the iceberg, what is the rest doing? In this sparkling and provocative new book, renowned neuroscientist David Eagleman navigates the depths of the subconscious brain to illuminate surprising mysteries: Why can your foot move halfway to the brake pedal before you become consciously aware of danger ahead? Why do you notice when your name is mentioned in a conversation that you didn’t think you were listening to? What do Ulysses and the credit crunch have in common? Why did Thomas Edison electrocute an elephant in 1916? Why are people whose name begins with J more likely to marry other people whose name begins with J? Why is it so difficult to keep a secret? And how is it possible to get angry at yourself ? Who, exactly, is mad at whom? Taking in brain damage, plane spotting, dating, drugs, beauty, infidelity, synaesthesia, criminal law, artificial intelligence and visual illusions, Incognito is a thrilling subsurface exploration of the mind and all its contradictions.
Why the Net Matters: Six Easy Ways to Avert the Collapse of Civilization
The advent of the internet has been one of the most significant technological developments in history. In this thought-provoking and groundbreaking work David Eagleman, author of international bestseller SUM, presents six ways in which the net saves us from major existential threats: epidemics, poor information flow, natural disasters, political corruption, resource depletion and economic meltdown.
Praise for Why the Net Matters:
“Clever, informative, intriguing and fresh”—Observer
“An impressive and intriguing work”—Sunday Telegraph
A New York Times “SuperBook”
SUM: Forty Tales from the Afterlives
At once funny, wistful and unsettling, Sum is a dazzling exploration of unexpected afterlives—each presented as a vignette that offers a stunning lens through which to see ourselves in the here and now. In one afterlife, you may find that God is the size of a microbe and unaware of your existence. In another version, you work as a background character in other people’s dreams. Or you may find that God is a married couple, or that the universe is running backward, or that you are forced to live out your afterlife with annoying versions of who you could have been. With a probing imagination and deep understanding of the human condition, acclaimed neuroscientist David Eagleman offers wonderfully imagined tales that shine a brilliant light on the here and now.
Wednesday is Indigo Blue: Discovering the Brain of Synesthesia
A person with synesthesia might feel the flavor of food on her fingertips, sense the letter “J” as shimmering magenta or the number “5” as emerald green, hear and taste her husband's voice as buttery golden brown. Synesthetes rarely talk about their peculiar sensory gift—believing either that everyone else senses the world exactly as they do, or that no one else does. Yet synesthesia occurs in one in twenty people, and is even more common among artists. One famous synesthete was novelist Vladimir Nabokov, who insisted as a toddler that the colors on his wooden alphabet blocks were “all wrong.” His mother understood exactly what he meant because she, too, had synesthesia. Nabokov's son Dmitri, who recounts this tale in the afterword to this book, is also a synesthete—further illustrating how synesthesia runs in families.
In Wednesday Is Indigo Blue, pioneering researcher Richard Cytowic and distinguished neuroscientist David Eagleman explain the neuroscience and genetics behind synesthesia's multisensory experiences. Because synesthesia contradicted existing theory, Cytowic spent twenty years persuading colleagues that it was a real—and important—brain phenomenon rather than a mere curiosity. Today scientists in fifteen countries are exploring synesthesia and how it is changing the traditional view of how the brain works. Cytowic and Eagleman argue that perception is already multisensory, though for most of us its multiple dimensions exist beyond the reach of consciousness. Reality, they point out, is more subjective than most people realize. No mere curiosity, synesthesia is a window on the mind and brain, highlighting the amazing differences in the way people see the world.
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