playlist

How does my brain work?

How exactly does the brain — a 3-pound snarl of nervous tissue — create inspired inventions, the feeling of hunger, the experience of beauty, the sense of self? Researchers at the edge of science explain ...

  1. 9:03
    Neil Burgess How your brain tells you where you are

    How do you remember where you parked your car? How do you know if you're moving in the right direction? Neuroscientist Neil Burgess studies the neural mechanisms that map the space around us, and how they link to memory and imagination.

  2. 15:59
    Nadine Burke Harris How childhood trauma affects health across a lifetime

    Childhood trauma isn’t something you just get over as you grow up. Pediatrician Nadine Burke Harris explains that the repeated stress of abuse, neglect and parents struggling with mental health or substance abuse issues has real, tangible effects on the development of the brain. This unfolds across a lifetime, to the point where those who’ve experienced high levels of trauma are at triple the risk for heart disease and lung cancer. An impassioned plea for pediatric medicine to confront the prevention and treatment of trauma, head-on.

  3. 11:04
    Sandrine Thuret You can grow new brain cells. Here's how

    Can we, as adults, grow new neurons? Neuroscientist Sandrine Thuret says that we can, and she offers research and practical advice on how we can help our brains perform neurogenesis—improving mood, increasing memory formation and preventing the decline associated with aging along the way.

  4. 14:26
    Sarah-Jayne Blakemore The mysterious workings of the adolescent brain

    Why do teenagers seem so much more impulsive, so much less self-aware than grown-ups? Cognitive neuroscientist Sarah-Jayne Blakemore compares the prefrontal cortex in adolescents to that of adults, to show us how typically “teenage” behavior is caused by the growing and developing brain.

  5. 13:31
    Suzana Herculano-Houzel What is so special about the human brain?

    The human brain is puzzling — it is curiously large given the size of our bodies, uses a tremendous amount of energy for its weight and has a bizarrely dense cerebral cortex. But: why? Neuroscientist Suzana Herculano-Houzel puts on her detective's cap and leads us through this mystery. By making "brain soup," she arrives at a startling conclusion.

  6. 11:41
    Jeff Iliff One more reason to get a good night’s sleep

    The brain uses a quarter of the body's entire energy supply, yet only accounts for about two percent of the body's mass. So how does this unique organ receive and, perhaps more importantly, rid itself of vital nutrients? New research suggests it has to do with sleep.

  7. 19:59
    Daniel Wolpert The real reason for brains

    Neuroscientist Daniel Wolpert starts from a surprising premise: the brain evolved, not to think or feel, but to control movement. In this entertaining, data-rich talk he gives us a glimpse into how the brain creates the grace and agility of human motion.

  8. 18:42
    Antonio Damasio The quest to understand consciousness

    Every morning we wake up and regain consciousness — that is a marvelous fact — but what exactly is it that we regain? Neuroscientist Antonio Damasio uses this simple question to give us a glimpse into how our brains create our sense of self.

  9. 16:17
    Paul Bloom The origins of pleasure

    Why do we like an original painting better than a forgery? Psychologist Paul Bloom argues that human beings are essentialists — that our beliefs about the history of an object change how we experience it, not simply as an illusion, but as a deep feature of what pleasure (and pain) is.

  10. 18:23
    Pawan Sinha How brains learn to see

    Pawan Sinha details his groundbreaking research into how the brain's visual system develops. Sinha and his team provide free vision-restoring treatment to children born blind, and then study how their brains learn to interpret visual data. The work offers insights into neuroscience, engineering and even autism.

  11. 15:21
    Allan Jones A map of the brain

    How can we begin to understand the way the brain works? The same way we begin to understand a city: by making a map. In this visually stunning talk, Allan Jones shows how his team is mapping which genes are turned on in each tiny region, and how it all connects up.

  12. 4:02
    Christopher deCharms A look inside the brain in real time

    Neuroscientist and inventor Christopher deCharms demonstrates a new way to use fMRI to show brain activity — thoughts, emotions, pain — while it is happening. In other words, you can actually see how you feel.

  13. 23:07
    Michael Merzenich Growing evidence of brain plasticity

    Neuroscientist Michael Merzenich looks at one of the secrets of the brain's incredible power: its ability to actively re-wire itself. He's researching ways to harness the brain's plasticity to enhance our skills and recover lost function.

  14. 10:26
    Mary Lou Jepsen Could future devices read images from our brains?

    As an expert on cutting-edge digital displays, Mary Lou Jepsen studies how to show our most creative ideas on screens. And as a brain surgery patient herself, she is driven to know more about the neural activity that underlies invention, creativity, thought. She meshes these two passions in a rather mindblowing talk on two cutting-edge brain studies that might point to a new frontier in understanding how (and what) we think.

  15. 6:32
    Mehdi Ordikhani-Seyedlar What happens in your brain when you pay attention?

    Attention isn't just about what we focus on — it's also about what our brains filter out. By investigating patterns in the brain as people try to focus, computational neuroscientist Mehdi Ordikhani-Seyedlar hopes to bring the brain and the computer closer together, building models that can be used to treat ADHD and help those who have lost the ability to communicate. Hear more about this exciting science in this brief, fascinating talk.