David Eagleman is a daring young scientist who provides a new understanding of our brains—and ourselves. As a speaker, this Guggenheim Fellow and NYT bestselling author is energizing, edifying, and able to connect scientific discovery to any field. He’s the writer and host of the PBS series The Brain with David Eagleman: a six-hour international event on what it means to be human. This series tells the story of the inner workings of the brain and take viewers on an epic, visually stunning journey into why we feel and think the things we do.
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 (and its companion book The Brain: The Story of You), he provides viewers with a deeper understanding of themselves, the unseen world of decisions, and of modern neuroscience. His newest book is The Runaway Species: a stunning, full-color collaboration with composer Anthony Brandt on the foundations of human creativity. 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.
“The kind of guy who really does make being a scientist look like fun.”— The New York Times
Eagleman is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Psychology and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford. His influential neuroscience books include the New York Times bestseller Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain, and Wednesday Is Indigo Blue: Discovering the Brain of Synesthesia. His novel SUM was named a Best Book of The Year by Barnes and Noble, has been translated into 28 languages, and inspired U2 producer Brian Eno to write 12 new pieces of music, which he performed, with Eagleman, at the Sydney Opera House. A forthcoming book, Livewired: How the Brain Rewrites Its Own Circuitry (2018), presents his new theory of infotropism: why the fundamental principle of the brain is information maximization.
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.
“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!”Virginia Association of Independent Schools
“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!”The Gap
The Runaway Species Transforming the World Through Human Creativity
Of all life on Earth, human beings are unique in their capacity to create—and remake—the world. But still, we know so little of this fundamental drive. Where does the urge to create come from? Do all creative acts share a similar set of qualities? And, importantly, is it a force we can all learn to cultivate?
In this moving examination of human creativity, David Eagleman applies the latest findings from the field of neuroscience to issues of immediate and practical importance. To uplift our schools and institutions, businesses and personal lives, Eagleman outlines ways we might stimulate our latent creative urges while nourishing those we already possess. Both a celebration and interrogation of the human spirit, this keynote can help audiences imagine a more creative future for all of us—at a time when innovation may be key to transforming, and saving, our world.
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. In this talk, renowned neuroscientist David Eagleman takes us on 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.
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.
Your Brain and the Law The Future of Biologically Informed Jurisprudence
Advances in neuroscience are beginning to reveal the limits of our criminal justice system. As scientists probe the brain, we begin to see how many neural problems are linked to anti-social, violent, and criminal behaviors. And as our biology changes, so too does our behavior—making the issue of criminal blameworthiness, of volition, much more complicated than we’ve traditionally understood. In this riveting keynote, David Eagleman—director of the Center for Science & Law—exposes the flaws of our punitive institutions, and helps us imagine a new legal system, more intrinsically tied to scientific research, and one that adjusts sentences, rehabilitation, and incentives depending upon the neurological make-up of the perpetrator. With reference to contemporary cases and the latest in the science of the brain, Eagleman outlines a more cost-effective, adaptable, and ultimately humane system for the benefit of all.
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.