The Unconscious: Freud's Gift to Neuroscience
The idea that there's this massive amount happening under the hood came from Freud.
David Eagleman is a neuroscientist and a New York Times bestselling author. He directs the Laboratory for Perception and Action at the Baylor College of Medicine, where he also directs the Initiative on Neuroscience and Law. He is best known for his work on time perception, brain plasticity, synesthesia, and neurolaw.
Beyond his 100+ academic publications, 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, is an international bestseller published in 28 languages and turned into two operas. Why the Net Matters examines what the advent of the internet means on the timescale of civilizations. The award-winning Wednesday is Indigo Blue explores the neurological condition of synesthesia, in which the senses are blended.
Eagleman is a TED speaker, a Guggenheim Fellow, a winner of the McGovern Award for Excellence in Biomedical Communication, a Next Generation Texas Fellow, Vice-Chair on the World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Council on Neuroscience & Behaviour, a research fellow in the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, Chief Scientific Advisor for the Mind Science Foundation, and a board member of The Long Now Foundation. He has served as an academic editor for several scientific journals. He was named Science Educator of the Year by the Society for Neuroscience, and was featured as one of the Brightest Idea Guys by Italy's Style magazine. He is founder of the company BrainCheck and the cofounder of the company NeoSensory. He was the scientific advisor for the television drama Perception, and has been profiled on the Colbert Report, NOVA Science Now, the New Yorker, CNN's Next List, and many other venues. He appears regularly on radio and television to discuss literature and science.
The history of understanding that there is an unconscious that’s riding under the radar of conscious awareness is such a new idea, historically. Several hundred years ago, people got pieces and parts of the idea, but it wasn't until Freud that he really nailed it.
Neuroscience has drifted off a little bit from the directions that Freud was going in terms of the interpretations of whether your unconscious mind is sending you particular hidden signals and so on. But the idea that there's this massive amount happening under the hood, that part was correct and so Freud really nailed that. And he lived before the blossoming of modern neuroscience, so he was able to do this just by outside observation and looking at how people acted.
Nowadays, we’re able to peer noninvasively inside people's heads as they're doing tasks, as they're thinking about things and making decisions, perceiving the world. We’re able to go a lot deeper into understanding this massive machinery under the hood.
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