Your Brain – Your Storyteller
Your brain serves up a narrative – and each of us believes whatever narrative it tells. Whether you’re falling for a visual illusion, or believing the dream you happen to be trapped in, or experiencing letters in color (synethesia), or accepting a delusion as true during an episode of schizophrenia, we each accept our realities however our brains script them.
Despite the feeling that we’re directly experiencing the world out there, our reality is ultimately built in the dark, in a foreign language of electrochemical signals. The activity churning across vast neural networks gets turned into your story of this, your private experience of the world: the feeling of a book in your hands, the smell of roses, the sound of others speaking.
Even more strangely, it’s likely that every brain tells a slightly different narrative. For every situation with multiple witnesses, different brains are having different private subjective experiences. With seven billion human brains wandering the planet (and trillions of animal brains), there’s no single version of reality. Each brain carries its own truth.
So what is reality? It’s like a television set show that only you can see, and you can’t turn it off. The good news is that it happens to be broadcasting the most interesting show you could ask for: edited, personalized, and presented just for you.
The Brain: The Story of You
David Eagleman is a neuroscientist and writer, serving as an adjunct associate professor at Stanford University in the department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences. He also independently serves as the director of the Center for Science and Law.
Eagleman is known for his work on brain plasticity, time perception, synesthesia, and neurolaw. He is a Guggenheim Fellow, a council member in the World Economic Forum, and a New York Times bestselling author published in 28 languages.
Eagleman has over 100 academic publications, and he has published many popular books. His bestselling book Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain, explores the neuroscience “under the hood” of the conscious mind: all the aspects of neural function to which we have no awareness or access. His work of fiction, SUM: Forty Tales from the Afterlives, is an international bestseller published in 28 languages and turned into two operas.
Books written by David Eagleman include:
- Brain and Behavior: A Cognitive Neuroscience Perspective
- Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain
- Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives
- The Brain: The Story of You
- The Runaway Species: How human creativity remakes the world
- Wednesday Is Indigo Blue: Discovering the Brain of Synesthesia (MIT Press)