Incognito: The secret lives of the brain

by CLSA / Sep 18, 2016

David Eagleman, Professor, Stanford University


Presentation: 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 behaviour, 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.

About David Eagleman: A daring young scientist who provides a new understanding of our brains and ourselves, Eagleman is often called the Carl Sagan of neuroscience. He deals with everything from how the brain rewires itself to why art and science must learn from each other. In his 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. 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 recognise the beauty of the brain, question what we perceive as reality, and re-think what we know about human nature.

Eagleman holds joint appointments in the Departments of Neuroscience and Psychiatry at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, where he directs the Initiative on Neuroscience and Law and the Laboratory for Perception and Action. 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, 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. Eagleman’s forthcoming book, Livewired: How the Brain Rewrites Its Own Circuitry (June 2017), presents his new theory of infotropism: why the fundamental principle of the brain is information maximisation.

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