The Brain Man of Rice University

David Eagleman’s 3-year-old son is desperately trying to reach the light switch in the Eaglemans’ family room, straining on his tippy-toes and gripping the doorframe. Click—one light goes off. It’s not enough. He still can’t show us how his dinosaur puzzle glows in the dark. He jumps. Click—a second light. Still, the triceratops refuses to glow. Propelled by instinct, Eagleman moves to help, then quickly backs down.  “I feel like I should—well, no. Actually, struggle is important,” he says. Seconds later, he leaps up and helps his son turn out the lights.  “The responsibility is so overwhelming to shape a brain,” he tells me on another day. We are at a café at Baylor College of Medicine, where Eagleman directs both the Laboratory for Perception and Action and the recently…


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