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Livewired: The Inside Story of the Ever-Changing Brain

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  574 ratings  ·  96 reviews
From the best-selling author of Incognito and Sum comes a revelatory portrait of the human brain based on the most recent scientific discoveries about how it unceasingly adapts, re-creates, and formulates new ways of understanding the world we live in.

The magic of the brain is not found in the parts it's made of but in the way those parts un
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published August 25th 2020 by Pantheon Books
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May 14, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I was really excited to read this book. I have previously read Eagleman’s ‘The Brain’ and enjoyed his TV show in the same subject. Since first learning of plasticity during neurophysiology lectures at university I have been fascinated by the brain’s ability to adapt.

Eagleman writes at a level that is easy for the average layperson to understand and he relies on anecdotes and case studies to aid the reader.

There is one major flaw which means I am forced to give this book a 1* review. I know a li
Aug 25, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Sep 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A masterpiece of popular science and one of the most hopeful books I've ever read
Let's say there's a kid who has the worst case of epilepsy ever. Like, seizures every 20 minutes. Doctor says the only treatment is a hemispherectomy, which is exactly what it sounds like — removal of half the kid's brain. What do you think happens after the operation? How will the kid do?

If you said, "Well, the kid's going to lose his ability to walk, talk, do anything really," you'd be correct — but only for a few
Maciej Gajewski
Nov 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Just wow. I had no idea that brain - something we take for granted because we do not even notice its work on a daily basis - can do such wonders. Somebody could easily insert most of the brain's accomplishments into a new sci-fi novel, and the majority of readers would assume that it's just a fiction, that we can't achieve this within our current bodies. But we can, and we do. Our whole life is based on those, seemingly magical skills. And this is how we operate every day.
I was in a constant st
Anish Malpani
Oct 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The most important book I've read this year. Eagleman never fails to amuse and then he makes it all scientific and reasonable which gives it that much more credibility. A game-changer. ...more
Sep 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I’ve enjoyed following David’s projects over the last decade, and as expected, this book did not disappoint. David makes neuroscience not only digestible, but enthralling. He a technical leader in his scientific discipline and a masterful scientific communicator.
John Kaufmann
Dec 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Excellent book about the plasticity of the brain -- about how every experience we have changes the brain, and about how the brain maximizes it resources to interpret the data coming in from our senses. Deals also with the problem of memory (storage of all the data), among other issues.

Eagleman is a neuroscientists who is doing research in the field, but he is great at explaining things in common terms we can all understand. I have read a few of his other books and have liked them all. While the
Jan 05, 2021 marked it as to-read
Shelves: why-we-dream
"We suggest that dream sleep exists, at least in part, to prevent the other senses from taking over the brain’s visual cortex when it goes unused. Dreams are the counterbalance against too much flexibility."

Oct 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A fantastic summary of the latest research on neuroplasticity.

David not only explains but illustrates in easy-to-understand terms the following:
1. Reflect the world. Brains match themselves to their input.
2. Wrap around the inputs. Brains leverage whatever information streams in.
3. Drive any machinery. Brains learn to control whatever body plan they discover themselves inside of.
4. Retain what matters. Brains distribute their resources based on relevance.
5. Lock down stable information. Some par
Luke Stephens
Oct 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Reading David's words is always a delight. Well articulated and accessible transfer of knowledge

Would highly recommend all his works no matter the medium as they give us a glimpse into how our minds work. There's no manual for life but out of a collection of books I'd want David's in the repertoire if there were such a tomb.
Sep 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
If you're interested in new research on brain science, this is the work for you. It's easy for non-scientists to read while still offering fascinating insights about how our brains work. ...more
Sep 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An inspiring, insightful, delightful book about the forefront of neuroscience and our understanding of cognition, memory, plasticity and the mechanics of what makes us human: our constantly changing brain. David has an uncanny knack for using metaphor and analogy to explain the complexities of neuroscience clearly and concisely, and he's not afraid of applying the learnings to the future of technology, products, life. It's inspiring to read this as well as full of surprises: why do we feel our p ...more
Daniil Lanovyi
Sep 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I am a big fan of David Eagleman's work. He's not only a leading scientist who is constantly expanding the realm of possibilities. But he's also a brilliant entertainer who speaks and writes about science in an engaging and fun way.

His new book is the great example. It's a popular book where the latest achievements of neuroscience presented in a clear, concise and compelling way. Our brain is the most amazing organ and the author knows how to tell us about it in the most amusing way.

Josh Maulucci
Sep 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Eagleman does it again! This book was such a rewarding experience. The pacing was great, and he didn't get bogged down in the technical details that sometimes make this particular subject matter unapproachable to many. Not only did it have a thorough consolidation of many recent discoveries in neuroscience, but I was pleasantly surprised with a few new hypotheses to which I hadn't yet been exposed.
I was very excited when this was released, and I it definitely not disappointed.
Jerre Mcquinn
Sep 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-tech
A fantastic new book written, as the author says, in plain English rather than professional argot. There is a lot to think about, and good to read about up-to-the-minute neuroscience.
Anthony Brandt
Aug 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
"Livewired" is a revelatory book, with mind-opening information on every page. If it were only about neural remodeling, it would already be a fascinating read. But on top of that, it presents a ground-breaking thesis: given vast stretches of time and the ability to test innumerable options, Nature has evolved "best practices" for designing brains. Eagleman explores what those are, as well as their implications for how humans might harness Nature's "design concepts" in the future. Lucid, poetic, ...more
May 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book elucidates how a brain is constantly adapting and learning from the environment and experiences throughout life. The brain is able to take a body's inputs and make sense of them to build a world view that allows it to function in the world. The author states that the various parts of the brain are constantly working to keep a balance so that we can be attentive to the most important or urgent events that are happening to us. Our brains shape who we are but we can also change our brains ...more
Aug 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A fascinating, informative and very interesting book. I learned a lot and I loved the clarity of the explanations and the examples.
It's the first book i read by this author and won't surely be the last.
Strongly recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine.
Dylan Miller
Jun 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Even though I'm a self professed neuroscience nerd, I definitely believe this book could be enjoyed by those who dont have a scientific background or understanding. The language seems to flow smoothly, allowing for better immersion in the learning. ...more
Tom Scott
Nov 25, 2020 rated it liked it
The subject of this book is fascinating—humans are born with mostly “unwired” brains that learn how to interpret input from the sensors the body comes with. But we don’t particularly need “ears” to hear or “eyes” to see—the brain doesn’t care where the signal comes from. Its job is, through trial and error, to make sense of the signal. This leads us to high tech glasses that can allow a blind person to rudimentary see, and cochlear implants to allow the deaf to hear.

While reading the book I rea
Oct 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A truly mind-blowing book on brain plasticity, written by Stanford neuroscientist David Eagleman. I've read almost all his other science books, and I think this may be the best one yet (and that's saying a lot). Livewired is deeply insightful and eye-opening on every page, written with his deep knowledge & characteristic blend of anecdotes and metaphors. This book will change the way you think of your brain and yourself. Highly recommended. ...more
Nov 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Beautiful book, though not much here is new if you have already read any recent literature about plasticity.
Oct 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
fantastic book - didn't realize just how adaptable the brain can be - gives hope for people with brain damage and such ...more
Matt Kuntz
Jan 03, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant pop science book on the plasticity of the brain. Great read for anyone in the mental health or education field to help understand the plasticity processes behind daily brain functioning.
Carroll Nelson Davis
Eagleman provides an explanation of brain plasticity: its potentials for sensory and motor adaptation, substitution, enhancement, and additions; its essential principles with respect to brain-environment interaction, development, physiology, and relevance; its implications for neuroscience theory, applications, and future (maybe near-future) technology. Entirely readable, fully understandable, completely enjoyable!
Bishal Lakha
Oct 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
Plasticity of brain might be one its best feature. This book takes you to the journey to understand capabilities and possibilities of brain and you will definitely be amazed to learn how flexible it is . Highly Recommended.
Larissa Berry
Sep 30, 2020 rated it it was ok
It started out fascinating, but I started to lose interest with all technological information. I realize that humans benefit tremendously from technology, but I'm not a fan of us becoming cyborgs. ...more
Sep 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The basis of Eagleman's book rests on this quote taken from the book: "Our machinery (the brain) isn't fully preprogrammed, but instead shapes itself by interacting with the world. As we grow, we constantly rewrite our brain's circuitry to tackle challenges, leverage opportunities, and understand the social structures around us." He provides us with examples of how that works through anecdotes of real life--a dog that surfs; an armless archer; a woman who remembers everything, among many others. ...more
Catherine Rhodes
Sep 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Brittany Murphy
Sep 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: neurology
4.5 stars. The moment I saw David Eagleman wrote a new book I had to read it immediately. It was beautiful. It reminded me how much I love how the brain works.
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David Eagleman is an internationally bestselling author, a TED speaker, and a Guggenheim Fellow. He teaches neuroscience at Stanford University and is CEO of a neurotech startup, Neosensory. At night he writes. His books have been translated into 33 languages.

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