Livewired – David Eagleman

Livewired: How the Brain Rewrites Its Own Circuitry

You will never think about your brain in the same way again.

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, neighbourhoods, 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.