What if each of us could make the symptoms of an illness disappear? Cast a spell so powerful it would actually rid us of pain, help us walk, or breathe better? For centuries placebos have been thought of as fake medicine involving trickery and deceit, but Brain Magic: The Power of Placebo pulls back the curtains on the proof that placebos can have powerful – and real – effects on our mind and body. New research is proving that everything from sugar pills, to saline injections, to sham surgery, can have real healing power. Placebos won’t shrink tumours or cure diabetes, but they can be effective in subjective conditions – where self-appraisal plays a role. And, as we’ll discover in Brain Magic, neuroscience is revealing how our bodies’ response to treatment is heavily influenced by our expectations, prior experiences, our beliefs, and the social cues that surround us.
Is your smart phone making you stupid? Can you make yourself cleverer? The Great British Intelligence Test measures the brainpower of the nation in one of the largest intelligence experiments of its kind. Devised with leading scientists at Imperial College, London, over 250,000 people around the nation have taken part so far - revealing important new science about the nation’s changing intelligence. Dr Hannah Fry and Michael Mosley put the public to the test, pitting young and old, males and females and tech lovers and readers against each other in a battle of wits. The audience can also play along online at www.bbc.co.uk/intelligencetest The results reveal new science about how our intelligence changes through our life. Which mental abilities peak in our 80s? And when can adults be outsmarted by ten-year-olds? It explores how our gender can affect our intelligence and uncovers groundbreaking new science on how our lifestyle and love of technology is changing our brain. Which of our digital habits are improving our mental abilities and which are harming us?
For most of human history, our brains dealt with pretty straight forward problems. But that brain is the exact same one we now use to post pictures of our pets on social media, fill out Excel spreadsheets, and worry about the next payment on our credit card.
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.