David Eagleman

The Tug-of-War Between Routine and Novelty

The Tug-of-War Between Routine and Novelty

"Brains seek a balance between exploiting the knowledge we’ve earned and exploring new surprises. In developing over eons, brains have gotten this tension well balanced – an exploration/exploitation tradeoff that strikes the balance between flexibility and rigor. Too much predictability and we tune out; too much surprise and we become disoriented. We live in a constant tug-of-war between routine and novelty. Creativity lies within that tension."

~ David Eagleman

Hearing through the Skin

What we’re doing right now is we’re building a vest for people who are deaf and there's a microphone on the vest and it picks up sounds and it turns it into vibrations on the body.  So it’s little vibratory motors like you find in your cell phone and what's happening is we’re doing digital signal processing on the auditory stream and we’re feeding this into somebody’s body and they will come to be able to hear through their skin.

Now, this sounds crazy, but remember that hearing anyway is just air compression waves getting turned into electrical signals that go into the brain.  So what we’re doing is we’re just feeding that through an atypical sensory channel, it gets turned into electrical signals in the brain.

Slowing Down Remembrance of Things Fast


“…fear does not actually speed up our rate of perception or mental processing. Instead, it allows us to remember what we do experience in greater detail. Since our perception of time is based on the number of things we remember, fearful experiences thus seem to unfold more slowly.”

From “How the Brain Stops Time,” by Jeff Wise, Psychology Today, March 13, 2010

Stetson C, Fiesta MP, & Eagleman DM. (2007). Does time really slow down during a frightening event? PloS One. 2 (12).