Consciousness

Did you know you have functioning neurons in your intestines -- about a hundred millions of them? Food scientist Heribert Watzke tells us about the "hidden brain" in our gut and the surprising things it makes us feel.

Sebastian Seung is mapping a massively ambitious new model of the brain that focuses on the connections between each neuron. He calls it our "connectome," and it's as individual as our genome -- and understanding it could open a new way to understand our brains and our minds.

Why do we make irrational decisions so predictably? Laurie Santos looks for the roots of human irrationality by watching the way our primate relatives make decisions. A clever series of experiments in "monkeynomics" shows that some of the silly choices we make, monkeys make too.

What happens when we infront the darkest fears? Trevor tries to beat his fear of heights, Jackie is petrified of feathers, Ryan cant fly. Will the latest treatments help like dropping them in at the deep end?

Michael Shermer says the human tendency to believe strange things -- from alien abductions to dowsing rods -- boils down to two of the brain's most basic, hard-wired survival skills. He explains what they are, and how they get us into trouble.

Google Tech Talks November 21, 2008

Personal Growth Series: Cracking the Neural Code: Speaking the Language of the Brain with Optics

The technological seeds of a Manhattan project-style scientific enterprise, the optical reverse-engineering of brain circuits to crack the neural code, have recently been planted at Stanford.

Thomas M. Jessel, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, explores the human brain, the sophisticated product of 500 million years of vertebrate evolution, assembled during just nine months of embryonic development. The functions encoded by its trillion nerve cells direct all human behavior. Yet the brain is a biological organ made from the same building blocks as skin, liver and lung. How does the brain acquire its remarkable computational power?

Eric R. Kandel, HHMI Investigator, examines whether the brain's two major memory systems, implicit and explicit, have any common features. Implicit and explicit memory both have a short-term component lasting minutes, such as remembering the telephone number you just looked up, and a long-term component that lasts days, weeks, or a lifetime, such as remembering your mother's birthday. Short-term memory is mediated by modifications of existing proteins, leading to temporary changes in the strength of communication between nerve cells.

This is the breathtaking story of Daniel Tammet. A twenty-something with extraordinary mental abilities, Daniel is one of the world’s few savants. He can do calculations to 100 decimal places in his head, and learn a language in a week. This documentary follows Daniel as he travels to America to meet the scientists who are convinced he may hold the key to unlocking similar abilities in everyone. He also meets the world’s most famous savant, the man who inspired Dustin Hoffman’s character in the Oscar winning film ‘Rain Man’. (2005)

Marc Yu, a seven-year-old concert pianist. At two he heard "Mary Had A Little Lamb", and immediately played it back, flawlessly. A year later he was playing Beethoven from memory. Now with a repertoire of more than 40 classical pieces, the young maestro's astounding brain has intrigued experts, such as development psychologist Professor Ellen Winner and neuroscientist Gottfired Schlaug. Winner and Schlaug focus on Marc Yu's achievements, and ask whether hard work is behind his success, or was he simply born with a brilliant brain?

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