David Eagleman is a neuroscientist at Baylor College of Medicine and directs the Laboratory for Perception and Action. His most recent book is Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain. He will give a public talk at the Louisville Free Public Library this evening.
His work and research probes the inner workings of the unconscious mind and asks several provocative questions about how information and stimuli are perceived and processed, with some startling real-world implications. He states, “All of our lives — our cognition, our thoughts, our beliefs — all of these are underpinned by these massive lightning storms of [electrical] activity [in our brains,] and yet we don’t have any awareness of it,” he says. “What we find is that our brains have colossal things happening in them all the time.”
From the dust jacket of the book:
If the conscious mind–the part you consider you–is just the tip of the iceberg in the brain, what is all the rest doing? Neuroscientist David Eagleman plumbs the depths of the subconscious brain to illuminate surprising questions: Why can your foot jump halfway to the brake pedal before you become consciously aware of danger ahead? Why do strippers make more money at certain times of month, even while no one is consciously aware of their fertility level? Is there a true Mel Gibson? What do Odysseus and the subprime mortgage meltdown have in common? How is your brain like a conflicted democracy engaged in civil war? 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? Why did Supreme Court Justice William Douglas deny that he was paralyzed? The subsurface exploration includes waystops in brain damage, drugs, infidelity, synesthesia, criminal law, the future of artificial intelligence, and visual illusions–all highlighting how our perception of the world is a hidden and awe-inspiring construction of the brain.
Eagleman was interviewed today on Here and Now by Todd Mundt. Catch the full conversation below.