Can we explain our rich experience of life only by studying the molecules that compose us? How is the color of your passport related to your chances of presenting with schizophrenia? Males are more predisposed to commit crime, so why don’t all males commit crime? And what does any of this have to do with traffic jams, why Seinfeld is funny, and how we’re ever going to come to know ourselves from studying biology? Join Eagleman to talk about levels of understanding, what a meaningful explanation would look like, and the possibility that we are not near the conclusion of science’s journey, but instead near the beginning.

Episode Audio

Episode Video

More Information:
Suomi JS. (2004). “How gene-environment interactions shape biobehavioral development: Lessons from studies with rhesus monkeys.” Research in Human Development. 3: 205–22.

Uher R, McGuffin P. (2007). “The moderation by the serotonin trans- porter gene of environmental adversity in the aetiology of mental illness: Review and methodological analysis.” Molecular Psychiatry. 13 (2): 131–46.

Robinson GE, Grozinger CM, Whitfield CW. (2005). “Sociogenomics: Social life in molecular terms.” National Review of Genetics. 6 (4): 257–70.

Caspi A, McClay J, Moffitt TE, et al. (2002). “Role of genotype in the cycle of violence in maltreated children.” Science 297: 851.

Caspi A, Sugden K, Moffitt TE, et al. (2003). “Influence of life stress on depression: Moderation by a polymorphism in the 5-HTT gene.” Science 301: 386.

Caspi A, Moffitt TE, Cannon M, et al. (2005). “Moderation of the effect of adolescent-onset cannabis use on adult psychosis by a functional poly- morphism in the COMT gene: Longitudinal evidence of a gene environ- ment interaction.” Biological Psychiatry 57: 1117–27.

Caspi A, Moffitt TE. (2006). “Gene–environment interactions in psychiatry: Joining forces with neuroscience.” Nature Reviews Neuroscience. 7: 583–90.

Scarpa A, Raine A. (2003). “The psychophysiology of antisocial behavior: Interactions with environmental experiences.” In Biosocial Criminology: Challenging Environmentalism’s Supremacy, edited by A. Walsh and L. Ellis. New York: Nova Science.

Koch C, Hepp K. (2006). “Quantum mechanics in the brain.” Nature 440 (7084): 611.

Eger et al (2022). Effects of country of origin and wave of immigration on prevalence of schizophrenia among first and second-generation immigrants: a 30-year retrospective study. Schizophrenia Research. 243:247-53.

Bourque et al (2011). A meta-analysis of the risk for psychotic disorders among first-and second-generation immigrants. Psychological medicine. 41(5):897-910.

Henssler et al (2020). Migration and schizophrenia: meta-analysis and explanatory framework. European archives of psychiatry and clinical neuroscience. 270:325-35.


"David Eagleman offers startling lessons.... His method is to ask us to cast off our lazy commonplace assumptions.
- The Guardian
"Eagleman has a talent for testing the untestable, for taking seemingly sophomoric notions and using them to nail down the slippery stuff of consciousness."
- The New Yorker
"David Eagleman is the kind of guy who really does make being a neuroscientist look like fun."
- New York Times
"What Eagleman seems to be calling for is a new Enlightenment."
- Sunday Herald
"[A] neuroscientist and polymath."
- Wall Street Journal
"A popularizer of impressive gusto...[Eagleman] aims, grandly, to do for the study of the mind what Copernicus did for the study of the stars."
- New York Observer
"David Eagleman may be the best combination of scientist and fiction-writer alive."
- Stewart Brand