Neuroscientist and Bestselling Author
To most ‘experts,’ 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 actually functions—and shows that innovation doesn’t have to be a private, enigmatic exercise. Knowing how the mind really works means that yes, we can understand human creativity—how it shapes and transforms companies, classrooms, and individual creators. His newest book is The Runaway Species: How Human Creativity Remakes the World: 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, recently excerpted in Wired and Psychology Today, for building more creative companies and institutions. Essentially, it’s about learning how we think—and learning how we can think differently.
“Innovation is energized by upsetting routine,” Eagleman writes. So whether he’s expounding on the careful balance—the sweet spot—between routine and novelty (the real reason to re-arrange your office!), or how leaders can embrace risk and disruption, he provides a vivid, inspiring guide to cultivating the right attitude for discovery. And for your organization, that means more excited partners, nimble processes, and faster, better ideas.
Eagleman “really does make being a neuroscientist look like fun,” writes The New York Times. Often called the Carl Sagan of neuroscience, he’s the scientific advisor on HBO’s Westworld and a bestselling author. As the host of PBS’ Emmy-nominated series The Brain, touted as a “whistle-stop tour into the inner cosmos,” Eagleman stacked cups, swung baseballs, performed street experiments, and debunked illusions, proving the affable, charismatic tour guide through the most impressive series—in content and dazzling style—ever produced on neuroscience. A Guggenheim Fellow and winner of major awards—including the McGovern Award for Excellence in Biomedical Communication—he’s also traded jokes with Stephen Colbert and been featured in Italy’s Style magazine. That’s the Eagleman enigma: a world-changer in The New Yorker who’s also the Director of the Center of Science and Law; “the hottest thing in neuroscience,” according to The Times, but also Vice-Chair on the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council, a Next Generation Texas Fellow, a board member of the Long Now Foundation, and a research fellow in the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies. At Stanford University, he’s an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Psychology and Behavioral Sciences—and, to the Society of Neuroscience, a Science Educator of the Year. But this doesn’t stop him from founding companies (BrainCheck), advising for the TV drama Perception, or appearing on CNN’s Next List.
These accolades—both popular and academic—prove Eagleman’s rare ability to make advanced science relevant, immediate, and fun. Full of optimism and enthusiasm, he’s also a fantastic keynote speaker. Regardless of audience, he can unpack the full range of applications (for memory, business, decision-making, education, the law, wearable technologies, and more) we get from a more nuanced understanding of the brain. His talk at TED2015 on creating new senses for humans—illustrated by his original invention, the VEST (or 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 the New York Times bestseller Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain (which proposes “a grand new account of the relationship between consciousness and the brain,” says The New York Observer) and The Brain: The Story of You, which Stephen Fry describes as such: “on every page there is a revelation so fantastic as to make one gasp.” His short fiction collection SUM was named a Best Book of the Year by publications around the world, has been translated into 27 languages, and inspired U2 producer Brian Eno to write twelve new pieces of music, which he performed, with Eagleman, at the Sydney Opera House. A forthcoming book, Livewired: How the Brain Rewrites Its Own Circuitry (2018), presents a new theory of how the brain is actually a dynamic, adaptive system, able to reconfigure itself by using data absorbed from the outside world.