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How Does the Brain Work? – NOVA ScienceNOW

I often write about neuroscience on this site. Sometimes I forget that it’s not common knowledge for everyone! For instance, what is the brain, and how does it work?

Here’s a great video from PBS – NOVA ScienceNOW with Neil deGrasse Tyson:

“How Does the Brain Work?”

Get your learn on!!! It’s very well done – entertaining and educating. Read below for some of my commentary on the topics discussed, and what I think are some important lessons.

Watch How Does the Brain Work? on PBS. See more from NOVA scienceNOW.

If the embedded video doesn’t work, try this link: http://video.pbs.org/video/1757221034/


  • The whole first section about magic tricks and the brain brilliantly illustrates how easy it is to fool each other (and ourselves). This is an incredibly important lesson – the limitations of our brains!
    There’s a difference between reality and how we perceive reality. Pretty important point when discussing why science is important, how the placebo effect works, and why it’s hard to correct misinformation.
  • The section about TMS is insanely interesting. We have one of those machines in our lab, and I plan to use it for some research. However, before we get too excited (as usual), we have to recognize the limitations. Namely, for treating pain.
    The example in the video discussed acute pain (right after surgery). Chronic pain is far different, and so far, the research on TMS isn’t so exciting, and can has a lot of risk for bias. The device is pretty dramatic, so just think of how much potential there is for a strong placebo effect!
  • The third section was really interesting, and I must admit I don’t know much about synesthesia. I’ll be looking into it.
    I thought it was great that this section demonstrated the scientists disappointment about his research results (the study on falling and time perception). That’s the reality of real science – sometimes stuff doesn’t work… but that’s a result, and an important one: now we know what doesn’t work! Negative results are nothing to be ashamed of, and they are just as important as positive results (negative here doesn’t mean bad research, it means the research didn’t find an effect or relationship).

Overall, this was an excellent program. I enjoyed it, and I’d imagine it’s great for anyone who is new to the science of the brain.

Comments? Questions? Criticisms?

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    2 Responses to How Does the Brain Work? – NOVA ScienceNOW

    1. Jos says:

      It´s sad not be able to see the video of “how the brain works”

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