Livewired: The Inside Story of the Ever-Changing Brain

Pantheon. Aug. 2020. 336p. ISBN 9780307907493. $28.95. SCI
The brain is a dynamic system that is constantly rewiring its circuitry in order to best tackle challenges, explains Eagleman (neuroscience, Stanford Univ.; Incognito and Sum). Plasticity is a word traditionally used to describe the brain’s ability to mold itself to new circumstances, but, to the author, this word is too static. He prefers the term livewired, as it better describes the function of the brain, an infinitely adaptable “information-seeking system.” The human brain is remarkably unfinished at birth, states Eagleman, and requires interaction with the world in order to grow and develop. He provides readers with ample neuroscientific research that illuminates brain function as well as many examples of the brain’s ability to adapt to new circumstances. Most interesting is the work being conducted around the concept of sensory substitution by Eagleman and colleagues at their company, NeoSensory; their enthusiasm for the potential synergy between neuroscience and technology is palpable.
VERDICT Eagleman claims that whatever information the brain is fed, it will learn to extract what it can, and there is much to extract from this fascinating work, that is recommended for readers interested in neuroscience, technology, and the intersection of the two.

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