David Eagleman

  • Aired:  07/21/11
  •  | Views: 37,568

Neuroscientist David Eagleman likens the brain to a neural Parliament with different political parties that are battling it out to steer the ship of state. (5:45)

EVERYBODY.

MY GUEST TONIGHT IS A

NEUROSCIENTIST HERE TO TALK

ABOUT THE NEUROLOGICAL

UNDERPINNINGS OF THE

SUBCONSCIOUS, IF THERE IS SUCH A

THING AS THE SUBCONSCIOUS.

PLEASE MOMMY BREAST DAVID

EAGLEMAN.

[CHEERING AND APPLAUSE]

, HI, DAVID EAGLEMAN.

ALL RIGHT, SIR, YOU ARE A

NEUROSCIENTIST.

WHAT IS A NEUROSCIENTIST FOR A

GOOD FOLKS?

>> WE TRY TO FIGURE OUT HOW THE

BRAIN WORKS.

[LAUGHTER]

>> Stephen: DOES IT ALWAYS

WORK?

>> IT'S ALWAYS DOING STUFF UNDER

THE HOOD THAT YOU DON'T EVEN

KNOW ABOUT IS THE THING.

IT'S ALWAYS SCREAMING ALONG WITH

ACTIVITY IN WAYS THAT YOUR

CONSCIOUS MIND DOESN'T EVEN HAVE

ACCESS TO.

[LAUGHTER]

>> Stephen: OKAY.

YOU WORK ON TIME PERCEPTION,

NEURAL LAW, AND YOU HAVE A NEW

BOOK CALLED "INCOGNITO: THE

SECRET LIVES OF THE BRAIN."

WHAT DO YOU MEAN "SECRET LIVES

OF THE BRAIN"?

>> WELL, THE BRAIN IS THE MOST

COMPLICATED THING WE'VE EVER

FOUND IN THE UNIVERSE.

IT CONSISTS OF HUNDREDS OF

MILLIONS OF NEURONS CONNECTED IN

SUCH COMPLEXITY THAT A CUBIC

MILLIMETER OF BRAIN TISSUE AS

MANY CONNECTIONS AS THERE ARE

STARS IN THE MILKY WAY GALAXY.

>> Stephen: BULL [BLEEPED].

>> IT'S TRUE.

>> Stephen: REALLY?

REALLY?

A CUBIC MILLIMETER?

>> YES.

SO THE REALLY AMAZING PART IS

THAT THE BRAIN IS RUNNING ALL OF

ITS OPERATIONS, ALMOST ALL OF IT

UNDER THE HOOD OF CONSCIOUS

AWARENESS.

SO THESE MASSIVE THINGS ARE

GOING ON, AND YOU DON'T KNOW,

THE THINGS YOU ACT... THE THINGS

YOU BELIEVE, THE THINGS YOU

THINK, YOU DON'T KNOW WHERE THEY

COME FROM.

THEY GET GENERATED UNDER THE

SURFACE AND SERVED UP TO YOUR

CONSCIOUS BRAIN, AND YOU SAY,

HEY, I JUST THOUGHT OF

SOMETHING.

BUT IT WASN'T YOU THAT THOUGHT

OF IT.

YOUR BRAIN HAS BEEN WORKING ON

IT FOR DAYS OR WEEKS.

>> Stephen: WAIT.

THERE'S SOMEBODY ELSE IN MY

HEAD?

AM I JUST LIKE A VEHICLE FOR MY

BRAIN TO GO AROUND?

>> AS PINK FLOYD SAID, "THERE'S

SOMEONE IN MY HEAD, BUT IT'S NOT

ME."

IT'S ESSENTIALLY THAT SITUATION.

>> Stephen: ARE YOU HIGH?

[APPLAUSE]

BECAUSE I HAVE NEVER HEARD... I

NEVER HEARD... I HAVE NEVER

HEARD ANYONE OUTSIDE OF A

COLLEGE DORM ROOM QUOTE PINK

FLOYD, THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

>> GLAD TO BE THE FIRST.

>> Stephen: OKAY.

DO YOU NEED TO KNOW WHAT YOUR

BRAIN IS DOING, BECAUSE MY BRAIN

TELLS ME THING ALL THE TIME AND

I JUST IGNORE IT.

>> RIGHT.

YOUR BRAIN IS LIKE THE C.E.O. OF

A COMPANY, WHICH ONLY HAS ACCESS

TO MAYBE THE LONG-TERM VISION OF

THE COMPANY AND DOESN'T REALLY

UNDERSTAND ALL THE MACHINERY OF

THE COMPANY BENEATH IT.

SO THE C.E.O. SETS THE LONG-TERM

VISION, BUT THE OPERATIONS THAT

MAKE IT ALL WORK, YOU DON'T

REALLY HAVE ACCESS TO.

>> Stephen: IT'S NOT

UNIONIZED, IS IT?

THE C.E.O. IS MAKING 100 TIMES

WHAT THE GUY ON THE ASSEMBLY

LINE IS MAKING, ISN'T HE?

>> THAT'S THE FUNNY PART ABOUT

OUR CONSCIOUS LIVES, THE

CONSCIOUS YOU, THE PART THAT

FLICKERS TO LIFE WHEN YOU WAKE

UP IN THE MORNING, THAT'S THE

SMALLEST BIT OF WHAT'S HAPPENING

IN YOUR BRAIN.

>> Stephen: WHAT HAPPENS IN

DREAMS?

IS THAT REAL?

IS THERE A DIFFERENCE TO MY

BRAIN WHETHER OR NOT I REALLY DO

THINGS?

LET'S SAY I AM NAKED HORSE BACK

RIDING AND LIKE THERE'S WOMEN

RUBBING ME WITH SCENTED OILS AND

THEN I RIDE UP TO A HUGE CROWD

ON A SPANISH HILLTOP AND

EVERYONE CHEERS MY NAME AND THEN

I PLAY A GAME OF CHESS WITH

HUMAN FIGURES.

OKAY.

NOW IF LATER THAT NIGHT I DREAM

THAT I DO THAT, IS THAT AS...

[CHEERING AND APPLAUSE]

IS THAT AS POWERFUL IN A DREAM?

DOES IT MATTER WHETHER IT'S REAL

OR DREAM STATE FOR THE EFFECT ON

MY PSYCHE?

>> YOU KNOW, THE FACT IS WHAT

DREAMS SHOW US IS THAT WE CAN BE

FOOLED INTO BELIEVING TERRORIST

REALITIES.

AND SO IT'S TAKEN AS A REAL

HYPOTHESIS THAT THIS MIGHT BE A

SIMULATION.

WE ALREADY KNOW THAT WE CAN BE

FOOLED INTO COMPLETELY BUYING

SOMETHING.

>> Stephen: WAITED A SECOND.

IS THIS "INCEPTION"?

ARE YOU AND I... ARE YOUDY

DICAPRIO?

>> DID YOU BRING THE TOP?

>> Stephen: [BLEEPED] I LOST

IT.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

AT THE END DO YOU THINK HE'S

STILL DREAMING?

>> YEAH, YEAH, PROBABLY.

>> Stephen: YOU THINK HE'S

STILL DREAMING?

>> THIS WHOLE THING MIGHT BE A

CIVILIZATION, TWO BILLION MORE

ADVANCED THAN WE ARE AND THEY'RE

RECREATING 2011.

>> Stephen: HOW CAN WE FIGURE

OUT WHETHER THAT'S TRUE?

>> GOT TO WAIT UNTIL YOU DIE AND

WAKE UP PROBABLY.

BACK TO THE BOOK.

>> Stephen: WOW.

>> NONE OF THAT IS IN THE BOOK.

THE BOOK IS ABOUT ALL THESE

UNCONSCIOUS INFLUENCES ON HOW WE

MAKE DECISIONS IN OUR LIVES.

>> Stephen: YOU HAD TO THINK

OF TEAM OF RIVALS THEORY.

WHAT IS THAT?

>> IT TURNS OUT YOU ARE NOT ONE

THING.

YOUR BRAIN IS MAKE UP OF LOTS OF

COMPETING SUBPOPULATIONS.

YOU SHOULD THINK ABOUT THE BRAIN

LIKE A NEURAL PARLIAMENT WITH

DIFFERENT POLITICAL PARTIES

BATTLING IT OUT THE STEER THE

SHIP OF STATE.

>> Stephen: REALLY,

PARLIAMENT?

ARE YOU SAYING MY BRAIN IS

BRITISH?

BECAUSE THAT WAS... I NEED A

REASON TO EXPLAIN WHY I DRIVE ON

THE WRONG SIDE OF THE ROAD

SOMETIMES.

[LAUGHTER]

SO IF THERE ARE DIFFERENT

POLITICAL PARTIES IN MY HEAD

BATTLING FOR CONTROL, WHO WANTS

TO RAISE MY EMOTIONAL DEBT

CEILING?

[CHEERING AND APPLAUSE]

DAVID, THANK YOU SO MUCH.

DAVID EAGLEMAN, THE BOOK IS

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