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Behaviour and Belief • 2019 • episode "S3E7" Mind Field

Category: Brain
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How can a lie become true? In this episode, Dr. Aaron Blaisdell and I create a game show that is actually a giant “human Skinner Box” to observe the formation of superstitious beliefs. And Dr. Samuel Veissière helps me design and perform a placebo reverse exorcism, harnessing the power of belief in both science and religion to convince normal people that a spirit has possessed their bodies.

Mind Field • 2017 - 2019 • 13 episodes •

Isolation

What happens when your brain is deprived of stimulation? What effect does being cut off from interaction with the outside world have on a person? What effect does it have on me, when I am locked in a windowless, soundproof isolation chamber for three days? In this episode of Mind Field, I take both an objective and a very intimate look at Isolation.

2017 • Brain

The Greater Good

Would you reroute a train to run over one person to prevent it from running over five others? In the classic “Trolley Problem” survey, most people say they would. But I wanted to test what people would actually do in a real-life situation. In the world’s first realistic simulation of this controversial moral dilemma, unsuspecting subjects will be forced to make what they believe is a life-or-death decision.

2017 • Brain

The Psychedelic Experience

Do psychedelic drugs really bring about self-healing and personal enlightenment? New research says they may. In this episode, I travel to the Amazonian jungle of Peru to experience the mind-expanding effects of the psychedelic brew Ayahuasca.

2017 • Brain

Interrogation

Psychology. Neuroscience. Drugs. All can be tools of interrogation. In this episode, an expert shows me how to coerce unsuspecting subjects into signing false confessions; a police psychologist questions me about my personal life after I am injected with a truth serum; and I match wits against a new brainwave-reading lie-detection method developed at Northwestern University.

2017 • Brain

Your Brain on Tech

Technology isn’t just changing our lives. It’s literally changing our brains -- and maybe for the better. In this episode, I’m a human lab rat in a groundbreaking study at UC Irvine, where scientists test how playing 3D video games affects my spatial memory. Will 10 days of gaming improve my ability to physically navigate a giant, 60-foot maze? And will an fMRI machine detect any physical changes to my brain?

2017 • Brain

The Cognitive Tradeoff Hypothesis

Humans are the only Earthlings with complex language. But at what cost was that ability acquired? In this episode, I visit Tetsuro Matsuzawa to learn about his influential cognitive tradeoff hypothesis.

2019 • Brain

Moral Licensing

How are our moral decisions influenced by factors we’re not aware of? A phenomenon known as Moral Licensing claims that when we do something good, we often subconsciously allow ourselves to then do something bad. In this episode, I take a look at whether those who donate money to charity become more likely to let a kid take the blame for a crime they know they committed.

2018 • Brain

The Stilwell Brain

There are 100 billion individual neurons in the human brain. Working together, they allow us to make sense of, and move through, the world around us. Scientists have built replicas of the human brain with computers, but no one has ever successfully made a brain out of humans. On this episode, I’ll travel back to my hometown of Stilwell, Kansas, and turn it into a working brain!

2018 • Brain

The Stanford Prison Experiment

Normal people can become monsters, given the right situation. That’s the standard narrative of the Stanford Prison Experiment, one of the most famous psychological experiments of all time. But what if the cause of its participants’ cruel behavior wasn’t what we’ve always been told?

2018 • Brain

Should I Die?

If I could live forever, should I? How does being reminded of our own mortality affect us psychologically? In this episode I speak with mortician and death positivity activist Caitlin Doughty and visit a cryonics facility trying to extend human life indefinitely. Will I take them up on their offer, or will I choose to die?

2018 • Brain

How to Talk to Aliens

Are we alone in the universe? Even if we could contact aliens, what would we say? How would we say it? And, most importantly, should we even be trying to make contact at all? This episode takes me on a journey to compose and send my own personal message into outer space.

2019 • Brain

Behaviour and Belief

How can a lie become true? In this episode, Dr. Aaron Blaisdell and I create a game show that is actually a giant “human Skinner Box” to observe the formation of superstitious beliefs. And Dr. Samuel Veissière helps me design and perform a placebo reverse exorcism, harnessing the power of belief in both science and religion to convince normal people that a spirit has possessed their bodies.

2019 • Brain

Mind Reading

In this episode I visit a researcher who is studying memory by using machine learning and neuroimaging to detect and predict people's brain states. I also travel to Japan to meet with a team working on ways to record the content of peoples’ dreams.

2019 • Brain

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Isolation

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The Lobotomist

In the 1940s Dr. Walter Freeman gained fame for perfecting the lobotomy, then hailed as a miracle cure for the severely mentally ill. It was hailed by the New York Times as "surgery of the soul," a groundbreaking medical procedure that promised hope to the most distressed mentally ill patients and their families. But what began as an operation of last resort was soon being performed at some fifty state asylums, often to devastating results. Little more than a decade after his rise to fame, Walter Freeman, the neurologist who championed the procedure, was decried as a moral monster, and lobotomy one of the most barbaric mistakes of modern medicine. American Experience presents The Lobotomist, the gripping and tragic story of an ambitious doctor, the desperate families who sought his help, and the medical establishment that embraced him. From award-winning producers Barak Goodman and John Maggio (The Boy in the Bubble, The Fight), this one-hour film features interviews with Dr. Freeman's former patients and their families, his students, and medical historians, and offers an unprecedented look at one of the darkest chapters in psychiatric history.

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