Livewired Book Summary - Livewired Book explained in key points
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Livewired summary

David Eagleman

The Inside Story of the Ever-Changing Brain

4.7 (308 ratings)
21 mins

Brief summary

Livewired by David Eagleman is a book that explores the science of plasticity, revealing how our brain is capable of rewiring itself to adapt and learn throughout our lives. It challenges traditional notions of fixed or localized brain function, and offers insights into the potential of neuroplasticity for improving our abilities and experiences.

Table of Contents

    Livewired
    Summary of 7 key ideas

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    Key idea 1 of 7

    Brains can reconfigure themselves however they need to.

    Matthew was three years old when he had his first seizure; sadly, they became regular occurrences after that. Over the next three years, Matthew would often have to stay in the hospital for days or weeks at a time.

    But his parents eventually learned of an unusual treatment. The problem was isolated in one half of six-year-old Matthew’s brain – so doctors suggested simply cutting out the whole hemisphere.

    They did exactly that. And three months later, Matthew was back to normal.

    Matthew still has trouble with his right hand and walks with a slight limp. But that’s it – other than that, there’s no way anyone would guess that literally half his brain is missing. And this is because, as it turns out, the human brain is remarkably good at adapting itself in any way necessary. The author calls it livewiring.

    The key message here is: Brains can reconfigure themselves however they need to.

    A full-sized human brain contains 86 billion neurons and the hundreds of trillions of connections between them. But what’s truly amazing is the way all its parts interact.

    We tend to imagine the brain as something fixed, with one region for vision, another for using tools, and so on. The truth is much more interesting: the brain is constantly rewiring itself.

    The different regions of the brain are continually adjusting, communicating with one another, and even competing for territory. As a whole, it’s like an immensely intricate, self-weaving tapestry.

    Sure, it’s DNA that contains our genetic code – but that’s a relatively small part of who we are. It’s our experiences and interactions that shape our brains, especially when we’re young and our brains are at their most plastic. We really are constantly changing as we learn more about the world.

    We change as we learn more about ourselves, too. In the brain’s somatosensory cortex, there’s a small model of you – a neurological map of your entire body known as a homunculus. Each region of the homunculus corresponds to a different body part, like the hands or the eyes.

    But we don’t all have the same model. Someone who’s born blind, for instance, won’t need the space normally devoted to vision. So another body part will use that region instead – for example, the ears. That’s why some blind people, like Stevie Wonder or Andrea Bocelli, really do have heightened musical skills. They literally devote more of their brain to it – because they can.

    Whatever opportunities the brain has, it rewires itself to use.

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    What is Livewired about?

    Livewired (2020) is an exploration into how the brain is constantly reconfiguring itself. As it learns new information about the world around it, the brain changes shape. We’re always discovering more about its astonishing adaptability.

    Livewired Review

    Livewired (2020) by David Eagleman is a fascinating exploration of the brain's adaptability and its ability to shape our reality. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • Through compelling scientific evidence, it reveals how the brain can rewire itself, allowing for extraordinary transformations and breakthroughs.
    • By delving into cutting-edge research and captivating case studies, the book showcases the brain's incredible resilience and its impact on our perception and behavior.
    • Eagleman's accessible and engaging storytelling style brings complex neuroscience concepts to life, ensuring that the book is never boring and always thought-provoking.

    Who should read Livewired?

    • Fans of popular science 
    • Students of biology and human anatomy
    • People keen to expand their own brains

    About the Author

    Dr. David Eagleman is a neuroscientist and internationally best-selling author. His books include The Brain and Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain. He also created and hosted an Emmy-nominated TV series on the brain, and he runs the neuroscience hardware company NeoSensory

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    Livewired FAQs 

    What is the main message of Livewired?

    Livewired explores the amazing adaptability and plasticity of the brain, revealing its potential for change and growth.

    How long does it take to read Livewired?

    The reading time for Livewired varies depending on the reader's speed. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Livewired a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Livewired is a fascinating read that offers profound insights into the mysteries of the brain. It's definitely worth exploring.

    Who is the author of Livewired?

    The author of Livewired is David Eagleman.

    What to read after Livewired?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Livewired, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • Other Minds by Peter Godfrey-Smith
    • How Emotions Are Made by Lisa Feldman Barrett
    • Being You by Anil Seth
    • Know Thyself by Stephen M. Fleming
    • Incognito by David Eagleman
    • The Brain that Changes Itself by Norman Doidge
    • The Influential Mind by Tali Sharot
    • Dopamine Detox by Thibaut Meurisse
    • The Laws of Human Nature by Robert Greene
    • Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman