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David Eagleman

To many, creativity is anecdotal: a highly personal, largely mysterious process that either speaks to you or doesn’t. David Eagleman doesn’t see it that way. He starts with neuroscience—how the brain really functions—and shows that innovation doesn’t have to be a private, enigmatic exercise. Knowing how the mind works means we can understand human creativity—and how to harness it to transform companies, classrooms, and creators. His latest book, The Runaway Species: How Human Creativity Remakes the World is a stunning, full-color collaboration with composer Anthony Brandt on the foundations—and furthest reaches—of creativity. But this isn’t just a celebration of our unique minds: it’s a practical handbook for building more creative companies and institutions. Essentially, it’s about learning how we think—and learning how we can think differently.

 

Often called the Carl Sagan of neuroscience, he’s the scientific advisor on HBO’s Westworld, a bestselling author, and host of the new documentary The Creative Brain, now streaming on Netflix. Whether he’s expounding on the careful balance between routine and novelty, or how leaders can embrace risk and disruption, he provides a vivid, inspiring take on cultivating the right attitude for discovery. As the host of PBS’ Emmy-nominated series The Brain, Eagleman was the charismatic tour guide through the most impressive series—in content and dazzling style—ever produced on neuroscience. A Guggenheim Fellow and winner of the McGovern Award for Excellence in Biomedical Communication, he’s also traded jokes with Stephen Colbert and been featured in Italy’s Style magazine.

 

Eagleman’s accolades—both popular and academic—prove his rare ability to make advanced science relevant, accessible, and fun. The Director of the Center of Science and Law, Eagleman is also the founder of BrainCheck, an exciting new app that test neurocognitive functions. Named a Science Educator of the Year by the Society of Neuroscience, he is also a research fellow in the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies and an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Psychology and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. His talk at TED on creating new senses for humans—illustrated by his original invention, the VEST (Versatile Extra-Sensory Transducer), which translates sounds into vibrations for deaf users—earned him a standing ovation on the main stage.

 

His widely celebrated books include New York Times bestseller Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain and The Brain: The Story of You, of which Stephen Fry says, “on every page there is a revelation so fantastic as to make one gasp.” His short fiction collection SUM was translated into 27 languages, and inspired U2 producer Brian Eno to write twelve new pieces of music, which they performed together at the Sydney Opera House. Recently, Eagleman’s critically acclaimed digital book Why The Net Matters was updated and reissued as an e-book (and audiobook) called The Safety Net: Surviving Pandemics and Other Disasters. In it, he reveals why the advent of the Internet has helped us sidestep the existential threats—from pandemics and natural disasters, to political corruption and economic meltdown—that have brought down previous civilizations. Regardless of the audience, Eagleman can unpack the full range of applications (for memory, business, decision-making, technology, education, the law, and more) we get from a more nuanced understanding of the brain—and make it fun.

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