“The brain is fundamentally unlike the hardware in our digital computers. Instead, it’s “liveware”. It reconfigures its circuitry. Although the adult brain isn’t quite as flexible as a child’s, it still retains an astonishing ability to adapt and change” (Eagleman, 2015, ch. 6).
The quote by the book’s author David Eagleman might be found in the section of Chapter 6 titled “A flexible, computational device”. The author begins the chapter by discussing the development of the human brain and its plasticity, followed by the story of Cameron Mott, who had half of her brain removed at the age of four. Eagleman uses the example to illustrate the brain’s ability to adapt to the most drastic physiological changes (i.e., partial brain removal). The quote is followed by the section examining the application of peripheral devices such as cochlear implants for people with impaired hearing and retinal implants for the visually challenged. The process of adaptation to the devices might be supported by the quote listed above.
I believe that it is crucial to analyze the meaning of the quote in question, especially the word “liveware”. What does “liveware” mean? The author presents the brain as a complex living and ever-changing organism, different from the other organs we have in our bodies. I support Eagleman’s idea that the brain has an incredible ability to adapt and change, as I witnessed several people recover after severe illnesses and injuries by adapting to their new conditions in incredible ways. The quote confirms the book’s general idea, which states that the brain is a complex multi-faceted organ that has not been completely understood yet. Therefore, Eagleman introduces the reader to the basic knowledge discovered throughout the history of neuroscience to shed some light on various issues related to the brain. Such an approach gives the reader enough food for thought and made me think of the times when I had to adapt to the environment. For instance, self-help books such as The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin allowed my brain to rewire for positive thinking during the difficult times, which is why I agree with the term “liveware” in reference to the brain. The quote is also interesting for contrasting the brain and computers, as some people prefer the opposite approach and refer to the brain as “hardware”.
Eagleman, David. “Chapter 6: Who Will We Be?”. The Brain. Pantheon Books, 2015.