Inner Cosmos with David Eagleman

Inner Cosmos with David Eagleman

Neuroscientist and author David Eagleman discusses how our brain interprets the world and what that means for us. Through storytelling, research, interviews, and experiments, David Eagleman tackles wild questions that illuminate new facets of our lives and our realities.

Episodes

June 10, 2024 59 mins

The brain easily forms ingroups and outgroups – and shows different responses when viewing one or the other. At the extreme, the brain stops seeing outgroup members as people, but more like objects. But are there ways to rehumanize? And in this context, what do heroes look like? In this episode, Eagleman talks with two men -- Maoz Inon and Aziz Abu Sarah -- one Israeli and one Palestinian. The two men, full of pain and sorrow, are ...

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Why do you sometimes feel that you trust this person but not that one -- for reasons you can't quite put your finger on? What signals does the brain vacuum up in your daily life, and what fraction of those does your conscious mind have access to? When does intuition steer us wrong? And what is the future of intuition, as we build new technologies to take the myriad signals racing around in the dark of our brains and bodies and brin...

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Why do we believe our own truths so strongly? What is steel-manning, and why is it so important? What does any of this have to do with F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Keats, or the future of our society? This week's episode deals with polarization and what we might do about it. Join Eagleman and his guest Isaac Saul, who works to represent different points of view in his newsletter Tangle -- all in the name of the intellectual humility t...

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May 20, 2024 55 mins

How do brains picture things internally, and how might you and I imagine differently? How have recent discoveries completely changed the debate and the way we understand internal experience? What does this have to do with Disney's Fantasia, or Pixar's aphantasia? Strap in for some very wild surprises today about our internal experiences, with guest Ed Catmull, founder of Pixar Studios. 

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From a neuroscience point of view, what is creativity? How does it shine light on the current lawsuits over large language models and whether they produce anything fundamentally new... or are simply remixing the old? How do the arts expose something important about what's happening in the human brain? What do we know about the cultural evolution of ideas? And what does any of this have to do with how cell phones got their names, an...

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Can we measure a lie from a blood pressure test, or pedophilia from a brain scan? And how should a judge decide whether the technology is good enough? What does this have to do with Ronald Reagan, or antisocial personality disorder, or how the television show CSI has impacted courtrooms? Today’s episode lives at the intersection of brains and the legal system. When are new neuroscience techniques allowed in courts, and when should ...

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David is taking his birthday week off and wanted to re-share this episode due to it's ongoing relevance.

Modern AI is blowing everyone’s mind. But is it intelligent like humans, or is it just playing impressive statistical games? Could AI reach or exceed our level of intelligence, and how would we know when it gets there? Traditional tests for intelligence (Turing test, Lovelace test, etc) have long been surpassed, so Eagleman pro...

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Why does a cold pool feel warmer the second time you dip your toes in? Why does a safecracker run his fingers over sandpaper? Why do Mediterranean cultures touch each other more than Scandinavian cultures? Would it be great -- or not so great -- if you were unable to feel physical pain? Why does stubbing your toe have different sensations through time? And what does any of this have to do with cuddle puddles, NBA players bumping ch...

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Could you instantaneously learn to fly a helicopter -- not by practicing, but instead by uploading instructions directly to your brain? What would society do if children no longer had to go to school? And what does any of this have to do with suntan booths, nanorobots, or what a cowboy on a hill is not able to see? Join Eagleman to learn about the possibility of modifying the microscopic structure of your brain and leapfrogging edu...

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From the brain’s point of view, what is the self? How do 30 trillion cells come to feel like a single entity? Does the "self" of a blind person include the tip of her walking stick? How flexible is our sense of self? And what does any of this have to do with psychedelics, trauma, synchronized swimmers, religious rituals, cheerleaders, or why soldiers across time and place love to march in lockstep? Join Eagleman for this week's epi...

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April 1, 2024 64 mins

Presumably we're not going to solve the problem of conflict between groups of people -- but what would better conflict look like? And what does that have to do with brains, the spread of homo sapiens, social media recommender algorithms, tribalism, intellectual humility, or the Iroquois Native Americans? Join this week's episode with guest Jonathan Stray -- a conflict researcher -- for an episode about brain science, war, empathy, ...

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Can you become conscious inside a dream? Can a researcher convey information to a dreamer, and can the dreamer find some way to answer back? Does 10 seconds inside a dream equal 10 seconds in real life? Could taking a drug inside a dream give you a placebo effect? Can you prompt your brain like a large language model? And if so, what would you pose to your unconscious brain? Join David Eagleman and guest Jonathan Berent to discover...

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March 18, 2024 52 mins

Why do brains dream, and why are dreams so bizarre? Why doesn't your clock work in your dreams? And even though you spend much of your working day looking at your cell phone and computer – why do they almost never make appearances in your dream content? Is dream content the same across cultures and across time? Are dreams experienced in black & white, or in color? Are dreams the strange love child of brain plasticity and the ro...

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Why do we spend 1/3 of our lives in the strange doppelganger state of sleep? Can we die from a lack of sleep? How long is it possible to keep yourself awake (and why does the Guinness Book of World Records no longer track that)? Why are some people night owls and some morning larks? What does any of this have to do with lightless underground caves, or with the length of a day on Mars? Join this week's episode to learn everything yo...

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Could you get convicted of a crime based on your brain activity? Are brain scan lie detectors accepted in court, or would that count as illegal search and seizure? And what does this have to do with your mouth getting dry, the orbits under your eyes getting hot, and your voice constricting when you deceive? Join Eagleman to dive into the fascinating topic of whether societies can use technology to figure out whether a person is tel...

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February 26, 2024 54 mins

What is depression? Why are brains able to slip into it? Is depression detectable in animals? Do animals have options beyond fight or flight? And what does any of this have to do with measuring depression medications in city water supplies, reward pathways in the brain, the prevalence of tuberculosis, and zapping the head with magnetic stimulation? Join today's episode with David Eagleman and his guest -- psychiatrist Jonathan Down...

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Do our visual systems see in frames like a movie camera or instead analyze the world continuously? Why do you see multiple hands when you clap under yellow street lamps? How did Hollywood launch from the question of whether all four legs of a galloping horse come off the ground at once? And what is the very surprising thing that happens if you stare at your ceiling fan for a long time while it turns? This week’s episode is about vi...

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February 12, 2024 48 mins

Can a person be declared legally dead even though he is very much alive? In December of 2010, why did a number of families choose to pull their loved ones off life support just before the new year? How do doctors decide when you've died, and how is it different from how lawyers decide? How is death a process rather than an event? What does any of this have to do with getting buried alive, your family's religious beliefs, or whether...

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Who is the most disappointed medalist at the Olympics? How do brains simulate what might have been? How can you get your kid to wear a jacket in the cold? What if you had to face more successful versions of yourself? And what does any of this have to do with why menus should be shorter, why empires divide, and why you should always put yourself in the shoes of future people? Join Eagleman to learn the capstone secrets of mental tim...

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Why are people who can't remember their past also unable to picture their future? Why do we get so anxious about the world changing around us? What should you advise the president if we find ourselves at war with extraterrestrials? And what does this have to do with Wayne Gretzky, or the Greek goddess of memory, or hitting a bottle to get ketchup onto your French fries? Join this week's episode to find out about one of the most imp...

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