Hallucinogenic drugs—popularly called psychedelics—have been used by human societies for thousands of years. Today, scientists are taking a second look at many of these mind-altering substances—both natural and synthetic—and discovering that they can have profoundly positive clinical impacts, helping patients struggling with a range of afflictions from addiction to depression and PTSD.
Alzheimer's disease -- the most feared of all maladies, with no way to cure, stop or even slow its insidious progression. But now, after decades of perseverance in the lab, researchers are on the cusp of a scientific breakthrough that could be the first step toward making Alzheimer's itself a distant memory. In the gripping new documentary Turning Point, acclaimed filmmaker James Keach takes us inside the quest for the first medication that that could treat the underlying process of Alzheimer's disease, more than a century after Dr. Alois Alzheimer first described the brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and cognitive skills. Along the way, we meet the people behind these grand experiments, the scientists driven as much by personal conviction as professional innovation. And we discover why medical science is never easy, often unpredictable and potentially perilous.
2020 • Brain
Imagine if you could plug your brain into a machine that would bring you ultimate pleasure for the rest of your life. The only catch? You have to permanently leave reality behind. Hayley Levitt and Bethany Rickwald explore Robert Nozick’s thought experiment that he called the Experience Machine.
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.
The Psychedelic Drug Trial has exclusive access to a ground-breaking new trial at Imperial College London. The trial sees, for the first time ever under controlled conditions, a psychedelic drug tested head-to-head against a standard antidepressant as a treatment for depression. The film follows a pioneering team of scientists and psychotherapists, led by Professor David Nutt, Dr Robin Carhart-Harris and Dr Rosalind Watts, as they compare the effects of psilocybin (the active ingredient of magic mushrooms) with an antidepressant (an SSRI called escitalopram) on a small group of participants with clinical depression. This is scientific research at its most cutting edge. With over seven million people being prescribed antidepressants each year in England alone, this drug trial is an important milestone in understanding a completely different treatment for depression.
2021 • Brain
The first programme in the series uncovers what happens in our minds when we learn, remember and have original ideas. It explores what we can do to improve our ability to learn and manipulate knowledge, and shows how eating fish oils can boost our brain power.