'This is the story of how your life shapes your brain, and how your brain shapes your life.'
Join renowned neuroscientist David Eagleman on a whistle-stop tour of the inner cosmos. It's a journey that will take you into the world of extreme sports, criminal justice, genocide, brain surgery, robotics, and the search for immortality. On the way, amidst the infinitely dense tangle of brain cells and their trillions of connections, something emerges that you might not have expected to see: you.
Neuroscientist and novelist Eagleman (Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain) reports on many big, recent neuroscience developments in this deceptively simple look at the universe's most complex known object: the human brain. Much of Eagleman's work covers scientists' ever-increasing appreciation of human brain plasticity. He addresses how brains rewire themselves in response to practice and discusses devices that help the brain regain damaged functions such as vision and hearing. Eagleman also shows how new technologies have revealed the reach and limits of human empathy, noting that seeing others in physical pain lights up the same neurons activated by experiencing physical pain directly though they light up less brightly when the observed victims are from a different social group. Those same brain areas even light up in response to emotional rejection. Remarking that human brains are essentially "peripheral plug-and-play devices," Eagleman shows that no matter what sort of data comes in, "the brain figures out what to do with it." And he effectively unveils the stunning degree to which "we can now hack our own hardware" in order to understand, and better, ourselves. This is a straightforward, stimulating companion book to the PBS series on the subject. Illus.