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Preview: TED Theme: How the Mind Works

TED Theme: How the Mind Works

At a conference about ideas, it’s important to step back and consider the engine that creates them: the human mind. How exactly does the brain -- a three-pound snarl of electrochemically frantic nervous tissue -- create inspired inventions, the feeling

Published: Thu, 22 Mar 2018 12:50:49 +0000

Last Build Date: Thu, 22 Mar 2018 12:50:49 +0000


Why we love, why we cheat | Helen Fisher

Wed, 06 Sep 2006 00:11:00 +0000

Anthropologist Helen Fisher takes on a tricky topic – love – and explains its evolution, its biochemical foundations and its social importance. She closes with a warning about the potential disaster inherent in antidepressant abuse.

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Why people believe weird things | Michael Shermer

Wed, 08 Nov 2006 00:11:00 +0000

Why do people see the Virgin Mary on a cheese sandwich or hear demonic lyrics in "Stairway to Heaven"? Using video and music, skeptic Michael Shermer shows how we convince ourselves to believe -- and overlook the facts.

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Surprising stats about child carseats | Steven Levitt

Tue, 24 Jun 2008 01:00:00 +0000

Steven Levitt shares data that shows car seats are no more effective than seatbelts in protecting kids from dying in cars. However, during the question and answer session, he makes one crucial caveat.

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Do schools kill creativity? | Ken Robinson

Tue, 27 Jun 2006 00:11:00 +0000

Sir Ken Robinson makes an entertaining and profoundly moving case for creating an education system that nurtures (rather than undermines) creativity.

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How juries are fooled by statistics | Peter Donnelly

Wed, 08 Nov 2006 00:11:00 +0000

Oxford mathematician Peter Donnelly reveals the common mistakes humans make in interpreting statistics -- and the devastating impact these errors can have on the outcome of criminal trials.

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The gentle genius of bonobos | Susan Savage-Rumbaugh

Thu, 05 Apr 2007 00:11:00 +0000

Savage-Rumbaugh's work with bonobo apes, which can understand spoken language and learn tasks by watching, forces the audience to rethink how much of what a species can do is determined by biology -- and how much by cultural exposure.

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Visual illusions that show how we (mis)think | Al Seckel

Thu, 05 Apr 2007 00:11:00 +0000

Al Seckel, a cognitive neuroscientist, explores the perceptual illusions that fool our brains. Loads of eye tricks help him prove that not only are we easily fooled, we kind of like it.

Media Files:

The paradox of choice | Barry Schwartz

Tue, 26 Sep 2006 00:11:00 +0000

Psychologist Barry Schwartz takes aim at a central tenet of western societies: freedom of choice. In Schwartz's estimation, choice has made us not freer but more paralyzed, not happier but more dissatisfied.

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Why we do what we do | Tony Robbins

Tue, 27 Jun 2006 20:38:00 +0000

Tony Robbins discusses the "invisible forces" that motivate everyone's actions -- and high-fives Al Gore in the front row.

Media Files:

The surprising science of happiness | Dan Gilbert

Tue, 26 Sep 2006 00:11:00 +0000

Dan Gilbert, author of "Stumbling on Happiness," challenges the idea that we'll be miserable if we don't get what we want. Our "psychological immune system" lets us feel truly happy even when things don't go as planned.

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Why the universe seems so strange | Richard Dawkins

Tue, 12 Sep 2006 00:11:00 +0000

Biologist Richard Dawkins makes a case for "thinking the improbable" by looking at how the human frame of reference limits our understanding of the universe.

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The illusion of consciousness | Dan Dennett

Fri, 06 Apr 2007 10:33:00 +0000

Philosopher Dan Dennett makes a compelling argument that not only don't we understand our own consciousness, but that half the time our brains are actively fooling us.

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Dangerous memes | Dan Dennett

Mon, 02 Jul 2007 21:45:00 +0000

Starting with the simple tale of an ant, philosopher Dan Dennett unleashes a devastating salvo of ideas, making a powerful case for the existence of memes -- concepts that are literally alive.

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How brain science will change computing | Jeff Hawkins

Mon, 21 May 2007 15:08:00 +0000

Treo creator Jeff Hawkins urges us to take a new look at the brain -- to see it not as a fast processor, but as a memory system that stores and plays back experiences to help us predict, intelligently, what will happen next.

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The emergent genius of ant colonies | Deborah Gordon

Tue, 08 Jan 2008 00:26:00 +0000

Deborah Gordon studies ant colonies in the Arizona desert to understand their complex social system. She asks: How do these chitinous creatures get down to business -- and even multitask when they need to -- with no language, memory or visible leadership? Her answers could lead to a better understanding of all complex systems, from the brain to the Web. Thanks, ants.

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The 4 a.m. mystery | Rives

Tue, 17 Jul 2007 14:44:00 +0000

Poet Rives does 8 minutes of lyrical origami, folding history into a series of coincidences surrounding that most surreal of hours, 4 o'clock in the morning.

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How to educate leaders? Liberal arts | Patrick Awuah

Fri, 03 Aug 2007 08:29:00 +0000

A liberal arts education is critical to forming true leaders, says university head Patrick Awuah -- because it builds decision-making skills, an ethical framework and a broad vision. Awuah himself left a career at Microsoft in the US to found a liberal arts school in Africa: Ashesi University, in his home nation of Ghana. A passionate talk about dreaming, doing and leading.

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The surprising decline in violence | Steven Pinker

Mon, 10 Sep 2007 10:55:00 +0000

Steven Pinker charts the decline of violence from Biblical times to the present, and argues that, though it may seem illogical and even obscene, given Iraq and Darfur, we are living in the most peaceful time in our species' existence.

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What our language habits reveal | Steven Pinker

Sun, 09 Sep 2007 14:56:00 +0000

In an exclusive preview of his book The Stuff of Thought, Steven Pinker looks at language and how it expresses what goes on in our minds -- and how the words we choose communicate much more than we realize.

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The search for humanity's roots | Zeresenay Alemseged

Tue, 18 Sep 2007 07:00:00 +0000

Paleoanthropologist Zeresenay Alemseged looks for the roots of humanity in Ethiopia's badlands. Here he talks about finding the oldest skeleton of a humanoid child -- and how Africa holds the clues to our humanity.

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Kids can teach themselves | Sugata Mitra

Wed, 27 Aug 2008 01:00:00 +0000

Speaking at LIFT 2007, Sugata Mitra talks about his Hole in the Wall project. Young kids in this project figured out how to use a PC on their own -- and then taught other kids. He asks, what else can children teach themselves?

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The case for optimism | Larry Brilliant

Wed, 21 Nov 2007 02:32:00 +0000

We've known about global warming for 50 years and done little about it, says director Larry Brilliant. In spite of this and other depressing trends, he's optimistic and tells us why. From Skoll World Forum, Oxford, UK,

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3 clues to understanding your brain | Vilayanur Ramachandran

Sun, 21 Oct 2007 08:15:00 +0000

Vilayanur Ramachandran tells us what brain damage can reveal about the connection between celebral tissue and the mind, using three startling delusions as examples.

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How electroshock therapy changed me | Sherwin Nuland

Tue, 30 Oct 2007 04:23:00 +0000

Surgeon and author Sherwin Nuland discusses the development of electroshock therapy as a cure for severe, life-threatening depression -- including his own. It’s a moving and heartfelt talk about relief, redemption and second chances.

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The habits of happiness | Matthieu Ricard

Thu, 01 Nov 2007 01:42:00 +0000

What is happiness, and how can we all get some? Biochemist turned Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard says we can train our minds in habits of well-being, to generate a true sense of serenity and fulfillment.

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Beauty, truth and ... physics? | Murray Gell-Mann

Thu, 06 Dec 2007 09:00:00 +0000

Armed with a sense of humor and laypeople's terms, Nobel winner Murray Gell-Mann drops some knowledge on TEDsters about particle physics, asking questions like, Are elegant equations more likely to be right than inelegant ones?

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The fractals at the heart of African designs | Ron Eglash

Thu, 29 Nov 2007 05:00:00 +0000

'I am a mathematician, and I would like to stand on your roof.' That is how Ron Eglash greeted many African families he met while researching the fractal patterns he'd noticed in villages across the continent.

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A performance of "Mathemagic" | Arthur Benjamin

Thu, 13 Dec 2007 00:13:00 +0000

In a lively show, mathemagician Arthur Benjamin races a team of calculators to figure out 3-digit squares, solves another massive mental equation and guesses a few birthdays. How does he do it? He’ll tell you.

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Why aren't we more compassionate? | Daniel Goleman

Tue, 18 Dec 2007 00:38:00 +0000

Daniel Goleman, author of "Emotional Intelligence," asks why we aren't more compassionate more of the time.

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The new power of collaboration | Howard Rheingold

Mon, 11 Feb 2008 02:39:00 +0000

Howard Rheingold talks about the coming world of collaboration, participatory media and collective action -- and how Wikipedia is really an outgrowth of our natural human instinct to work as a group.

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My stroke of insight | Jill Bolte Taylor

Wed, 12 Mar 2008 01:10:00 +0000

Jill Bolte Taylor got a research opportunity few brain scientists would wish for: She had a massive stroke, and watched as her brain functions -- motion, speech, self-awareness -- shut down one by one. An astonishing story.

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A look inside the brain in real time | Christopher deCharms

Mon, 24 Mar 2008 16:46:00 +0000

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.

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Questioning the universe | Stephen Hawking

Fri, 04 Apr 2008 01:31:00 +0000

In keeping with the theme of TED2008, professor Stephen Hawking asks some Big Questions about our universe -- How did the universe begin? How did life begin? Are we alone? -- and discusses how we might go about answering them.

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Memes and "temes" | Susan Blackmore

Tue, 03 Jun 2008 01:00:00 +0000

Susan Blackmore studies memes: ideas that replicate themselves from brain to brain like a virus. She makes a bold new argument: Humanity has spawned a new kind of meme, the teme, which spreads itself via technology -- and invents ways to keep itself alive

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The psychology of evil | Philip Zimbardo

Tue, 23 Sep 2008 01:00:00 +0000

Philip Zimbardo knows how easy it is for nice people to turn bad. In this talk, he shares insights and graphic unseen photos from the Abu Ghraib trials. Then he talks about the flip side: how easy it is to be a hero, and how we can rise to the challenge.

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The worldwide web of belief and ritual | Wade Davis

Tue, 10 Jun 2008 01:00:00 +0000

Anthropologist Wade Davis muses on the worldwide web of belief and ritual that makes us human. He shares breathtaking photos and stories of the Elder Brothers, a group of Sierra Nevada indians whose spiritual practice holds the world in balance.

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The brain in love | Helen Fisher

Tue, 15 Jul 2008 01:00:00 +0000

Why do we crave love so much, even to the point that we would die for it? To learn more about our very real, very physical need for romantic love, Helen Fisher and her research team took MRIs of people in love -- and people who had just been dumped.

Media Files:

Brain magic | Keith Barry

Fri, 18 Jul 2008 07:40:00 +0000

First, Keith Barry shows us how our brains can fool our bodies -- in a trick that works via podcast too. Then he involves the audience in some jaw-dropping (and even a bit dangerous) feats of brain magic.

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The new era of positive psychology | Martin Seligman

Mon, 21 Jul 2008 07:28:00 +0000

Martin Seligman talks about psychology -- as a field of study and as it works one-on-one with each patient and each practitioner. As it moves beyond a focus on disease, what can modern psychology help us to become?

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The next 5,000 days of the web | Kevin Kelly

Mon, 28 Jul 2008 14:01:00 +0000

At the 2007 EG conference, Kevin Kelly shares a fun stat: The World Wide Web, as we know it, is only 5,000 days old. Now, Kelly asks, how can we predict what's coming in the next 5,000 days?

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A computer that works like the brain | Kwabena Boahen

Wed, 30 Jul 2008 05:28:00 +0000

Researcher Kwabena Boahen is looking for ways to mimic the brain's supercomputing powers in silicon -- because the messy, redundant processes inside our heads actually make for a small, light, superfast computer.

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What we think we know | Jonathan Drori

Fri, 05 Sep 2008 01:00:00 +0000

Starting with four basic questions (that you may be surprised to find you can't answer), Jonathan Drori looks at the gaps in our knowledge -- and specifically, what we don't about science that we might think we do.

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The moral roots of liberals and conservatives | Jonathan Haidt

Wed, 17 Sep 2008 01:00:00 +0000

Psychologist Jonathan Haidt studies the five moral values that form the basis of our political choices, whether we're left, right or center. In this eye-opening talk, he pinpoints the moral values that liberals and conservatives tend to honor most.

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Health and the human mind | Marvin Minsky

Mon, 22 Sep 2008 01:12:00 +0000

Listen closely -- Marvin Minsky's arch, eclectic, charmingly offhand talk on health, overpopulation and the human mind is packed with subtlety: wit, wisdom and just an ounce of wily, is-he-joking? advice.

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Human nature and the blank slate | Steven Pinker

Fri, 26 Sep 2008 01:00:00 +0000

Steven Pinker's book The Blank Slate argues that all humans are born with some innate traits. Here, Pinker talks about his thesis, and why some people found it incredibly upsetting.

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Robots will invade our lives | Rodney Brooks

Mon, 29 Sep 2008 07:30:00 +0000

In this prophetic talk from 2003, roboticist Rodney Brooks talks about how robots are going to work their way into our lives -- starting with toys and moving into household chores ... and beyond.

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Lessons from past presidents | Doris Kearns Goodwin

Tue, 07 Oct 2008 01:00:00 +0000

Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin talks about what we can learn from American presidents, including Abraham Lincoln and Lyndon Johnson. Then she shares a moving memory of her own father, and of their shared love of baseball.

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Flow, the secret to happiness | Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Thu, 23 Oct 2008 01:00:00 +0000

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi asks, "What makes a life worth living?" Noting that money cannot make us happy, he looks to those who find pleasure and lasting satisfaction in activities that bring about a state of "flow."

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Design and the Elastic Mind | Paola Antonelli

Wed, 15 Oct 2008 06:39:00 +0000

MOMA design curator Paola Antonelli previews the groundbreaking show Design and the Elastic Mind -- full of products and designs that reflect the way we think now.

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The coming neurological epidemic | Gregory Petsko

Sun, 30 Nov 2008 20:38:00 +0000

Biochemist Gregory Petsko makes a convincing argument that, in the next 50 years, we'll see an epidemic of neurological diseases, such as Alzheimer's, as the world population ages. His solution: more research into the brain and its functions.

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The price of happiness | Benjamin Wallace

Wed, 17 Dec 2008 01:00:00 +0000

Can happiness be bought? To find out, author Benjamin Wallace sampled the world's most expensive products, including a bottle of 1947 Chateau Cheval Blanc, 8 ounces of Kobe beef and the fabled (notorious) Kopi Luwak coffee. His critique may surprise you.

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Why we make bad decisions | Dan Gilbert

Tue, 16 Dec 2008 07:32:00 +0000

Dan Gilbert presents research and data from his exploration of happiness -- sharing some surprising tests and experiments that you can also try on yourself. Watch through to the end for a sparkling Q&A with some familiar TED faces.

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Play! Experiment! Discover! | Kary Mullis

Mon, 05 Jan 2009 01:00:00 +0000

Biochemist Kary Mullis talks about the basis of modern science: the experiment. Sharing tales from the 17th century and from his own backyard-rocketry days, Mullis celebrates the curiosity, inspiration and rigor of good science in all its forms.

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The visual magic of comics | Scott McCloud

Tue, 13 Jan 2009 01:00:00 +0000

In this unmissable look at the magic of comics, Scott McCloud bends the presentation format into a cartoon-like experience, where colorful diversions whiz through childhood fascinations and imagined futures that our eyes can hear and touch.

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Our loss of wisdom | Barry Schwartz

Mon, 16 Feb 2009 08:27:00 +0000

Barry Schwartz makes a passionate call for "practical wisdom" as an antidote to a society gone mad with bureaucracy. He argues powerfully that rules often fail us, incentives often backfire, and practical, everyday wisdom will help rebuild our world.

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Play is more than just fun | Stuart Brown

Thu, 12 Mar 2009 01:00:00 +0000

A pioneer in research on play, Dr. Stuart Brown says humor, games, roughhousing, flirtation and fantasy are more than just fun. Plenty of play in childhood makes for happy, smart adults -- and keeping it up can make us smarter at any age.

Media Files:

Cute, sexy, sweet, funny | Dan Dennett

Mon, 16 Mar 2009 01:00:00 +0000

Why are babies cute? Why is cake sweet? Philosopher Dan Dennett has answers you wouldn't expect, as he shares evolution's counterintuitive reasoning on cute, sweet and sexy things (plus a new theory from Matthew Hurley on why jokes are funny).

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Our buggy moral code | Dan Ariely

Tue, 17 Mar 2009 01:00:00 +0000

Behavioral economist Dan Ariely studies the bugs in our moral code: the hidden reasons we think it's OK to cheat or steal (sometimes). Clever studies help make his point that we're predictably irrational -- and can be influenced in ways we can't grasp.

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Does racism affect how you vote? | Nate Silver

Wed, 22 Apr 2009 01:00:00 +0000

Nate Silver has data that answers big questions about race in politics. For instance, in the 2008 presidential race, did Obama's skin color actually keep him from getting votes in some parts of the country? Stats and myths collide in this fascinating talk that ends with a remarkable insight.

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Growing evidence of brain plasticity | Michael Merzenich

Tue, 28 Apr 2009 07:33:00 +0000

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.

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A passionate, personal case for education | Michelle Obama

Wed, 27 May 2009 01:00:00 +0000

Speaking to an audience of students, US First Lady Michelle Obama reminds each one to take their education seriously -- and never take it for granted. This new, brilliant generation, she tells us, is the one that could close the gap between the world as it is and the world as it should be.

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Happiness and its surprises | Nancy Etcoff

Wed, 10 Jun 2009 01:00:00 +0000

Cognitive researcher Nancy Etcoff looks at happiness -- the ways we try to achieve and increase it, the way it's untethered to our real circumstances, and its surprising effect on our bodies.

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How cults rewire the brain | Diane Benscoter

Wed, 17 Jun 2009 01:00:00 +0000

Diane Benscoter spent five years as a "Moonie." She shares an insider's perspective on the mind of a cult member, and proposes a new way to think about today's most troubling conflicts and extremist movements.

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The psychology of time | Philip Zimbardo

Mon, 22 Jun 2009 08:35:00 +0000

Psychologist Philip Zimbardo says happiness and success are rooted in a trait most of us disregard: the way we orient toward the past, present and future. He suggests we calibrate our outlook on time as a first step to improving our lives.

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3 ways the brain creates meaning | Tom Wujec

Tue, 07 Jul 2009 01:00:00 +0000

Information designer Tom Wujec talks through three areas of the brain that help us understand words, images, feelings, connections. In this short talk from TEDU, he asks: How can we best engage our brains to help us better understand big ideas?

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Exploring the mind of a killer | Jim Fallon

Thu, 16 Jul 2009 09:10:00 +0000

Psychopathic killers are the basis for some must-watch TV, but what really makes them tick? Neuroscientist Jim Fallon talks about brain scans and genetic analysis that may uncover the rotten wiring in the nature (and nurture) of murderers. In a too-strange-for-fiction twist, he shares a fascinating family history that makes his work chillingly personal.

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How we read each other's minds | Rebecca Saxe

Thu, 10 Sep 2009 01:00:00 +0000

Sensing the motives and feelings of others is a natural talent for humans. But how do we do it? Here, Rebecca Saxe shares fascinating lab work that uncovers how the brain thinks about other peoples' thoughts -- and judges their actions.

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What hallucination reveals about our minds | Oliver Sacks

Thu, 17 Sep 2009 01:00:00 +0000

Neurologist and author Oliver Sacks brings our attention to Charles Bonnet syndrome -- when visually impaired people experience lucid hallucinations. He describes the experiences of his patients in heartwarming detail and walks us through the biology of this under-reported phenomenon.

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Optical illusions show how we see | Beau Lotto

Thu, 08 Oct 2009 09:05:00 +0000

Beau Lotto's color games puzzle your vision, but they also spotlight what you can't normally see: how your brain works. This fun, first-hand look at your own versatile sense of sight reveals how evolution tints your perception of what's really out there.

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A brain in a supercomputer | Henry Markram

Thu, 15 Oct 2009 09:37:00 +0000

Henry Markram says the mysteries of the mind can be solved -- soon. Mental illness, memory, perception: they're made of neurons and electric signals, and he plans to find them with a supercomputer that models all the brain's 100,000,000,000,000 synapses.

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Metaphorically speaking | James Geary

Thu, 17 Dec 2009 15:48:00 +0000

Aphorism enthusiast and author James Geary waxes on a fascinating fixture of human language: the metaphor. Friend of scribes from Aristotle to Elvis, metaphor can subtly influence the decisions we make, Geary says.

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The neurons that shaped civilization | Vilayanur Ramachandran

Mon, 04 Jan 2010 07:30:00 +0000

Neuroscientist Vilayanur Ramachandran outlines the fascinating functions of mirror neurons. Only recently discovered, these neurons allow us to learn complex social behaviors, some of which formed the foundations of human civilization as we know it.

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Solving social problems with a nudge | Sendhil Mullainathan

Mon, 01 Feb 2010 08:44:00 +0000

MacArthur winner Sendhil Mullainathan uses the lens of behavioral economics to study a tricky set of social problems -- those we know how to solve, but don't. We know how to reduce child deaths due to diarrhea, how to prevent diabetes-related blindness and how to implement solar-cell technology ... yet somehow, we don't or can't. Why?

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The world needs all kinds of minds | Temple Grandin

Wed, 24 Feb 2010 08:44:00 +0000

Temple Grandin, diagnosed with autism as a child, talks about how her mind works -- sharing her ability to "think in pictures," which helps her solve problems that neurotypical brains might miss. She makes the case that the world needs people on the autism spectrum: visual thinkers, pattern thinkers, verbal thinkers, and all kinds of smart geeky kids.

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How brains learn to see | Pawan Sinha

Thu, 25 Feb 2010 08:40:00 +0000

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.

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The riddle of experience vs. memory | Daniel Kahneman

Mon, 01 Mar 2010 09:05:00 +0000

Using examples from vacations to colonoscopies, Nobel laureate and founder of behavioral economics Daniel Kahneman reveals how our "experiencing selves" and our "remembering selves" perceive happiness differently. This new insight has profound implications for economics, public policy -- and our own self-awareness.

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The magic of the placebo | Eric Mead

Fri, 12 Mar 2010 09:01:00 +0000

Sugar pills, injections of nothing -- studies show that, more often than you'd expect, placebos really work. At TEDMED, magician Eric Mead does a trick to prove that, even when you know something's not real, you can still react as powerfully as if it is. (Warning: This talk is not suitable for viewers who are disturbed by needles or blood.)

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Music is medicine, music is sanity | Robert Gupta

Fri, 26 Mar 2010 08:54:00 +0000

Robert Gupta, violinist with the LA Philharmonic, talks about a violin lesson he once gave to a brilliant, schizophrenic musician -- and what he learned. Called back onstage later, Gupta plays his own transcription of the prelude from Bach's Cello Suite No. 1.

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Bring on the learning revolution! | Ken Robinson

Mon, 24 May 2010 09:06:00 +0000

In this poignant, funny follow-up to his fabled 2006 talk, Sir Ken Robinson makes the case for a radical shift from standardized schools to personalized learning -- creating conditions where kids' natural talents can flourish.

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The pattern behind self-deception | Michael Shermer

Mon, 14 Jun 2010 09:23:00 +0000

Michael Shermer says the human tendency to believe strange things -- from alien abductions to dowsing rods -- boils down to two of the brain's most basic, hard-wired survival skills. He explains what they are, and how they get us into trouble.

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A headset that reads your brainwaves | Tan Le

Wed, 21 Jul 2010 12:36:00 +0000

Tan Le's astonishing new computer interface reads its user's brainwaves, making it possible to control virtual objects, and even physical electronics, with mere thoughts (and a little concentration). She demos the headset, and talks about its far-reaching applications.

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The art of choosing | Sheena Iyengar

Mon, 26 Jul 2010 08:36:00 +0000

Sheena Iyengar studies how we make choices -- and how we feel about the choices we make. At TEDGlobal, she talks about both trivial choices (Coke v. Pepsi) and profound ones, and shares her groundbreaking research that has uncovered some surprising attitudes about our decisions.

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The technology of the heart | His Holiness the Karmapa

Wed, 01 Sep 2010 08:48:00 +0000

His Holiness the Karmapa talks about how he was discovered to be the reincarnation of a revered figure in Tibetan Buddhism. In telling his story, he urges us to work on not just technology and design, but the technology and design of the heart. He is translated onstage by Tyler Dewar.

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Keep your goals to yourself | Derek Sivers

Thu, 02 Sep 2010 08:47:00 +0000

After hitting on a brilliant new life plan, our first instinct is to tell someone, but Derek Sivers says it's better to keep goals secret. He presents research stretching as far back as the 1920s to show why people who talk about their ambitions may be less likely to achieve them.

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The child-driven education | Sugata Mitra

Tue, 07 Sep 2010 09:11:00 +0000

Education scientist Sugata Mitra tackles one of the greatest problems of education -- the best teachers and schools don't exist where they're needed most. In a series of real-life experiments from New Delhi to South Africa to Italy, he gave kids self-supervised access to the web and saw results that could revolutionize how we think about teaching.

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Our natural sleep cycle is nothing like what we do now | Jessa Gamble

Wed, 15 Sep 2010 09:04:00 +0000

In today's world, balancing school, work, kids and more, most of us can only hope for the recommended eight hours of sleep. Examining the science behind our body's internal clock, Jessa Gamble reveals the surprising and substantial program of rest we should be observing.

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Where good ideas come from | Steven Johnson

Tue, 21 Sep 2010 08:50:00 +0000

People often credit their ideas to individual "Eureka!" moments. But Steven Johnson shows how history tells a different story. His fascinating tour takes us from the "liquid networks" of London's coffee houses to Charles Darwin's long, slow hunch to today's high-velocity web.

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Shh! Sound health in 8 steps | Julian Treasure

Thu, 23 Sep 2010 13:55:00 +0000

Julian Treasure says our increasingly noisy world is gnawing away at our mental health -- even costing lives. He lays out an 8-step plan to soften this sonic assault (starting with those cheap earbuds) and restore our relationship with sound.

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I am my connectome | Sebastian Seung

Tue, 28 Sep 2010 08:45:00 +0000

Sebastian Seung is mapping a massively ambitious new model of the brain that focuses on the connections between each neuron. He calls it our "connectome," and it's as individual as our genome -- and understanding it could open a new way to understand our brains and our minds.

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The brain in your gut | Heribert Watzke

Tue, 19 Oct 2010 08:09:00 +0000

Did you know you have functioning neurons in your intestines -- about a hundred million of them? Food scientist Heribert Watzke tells us about the "hidden brain" in our gut and the surprising things it makes us feel.

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Re-engineering the brain | Gero Miesenboeck

Wed, 03 Nov 2010 22:44:00 +0000

In the quest to map the brain, many scientists have attempted the incredibly daunting task of recording the activity of each neuron. Gero Miesenboeck works backward -- manipulating specific neurons to figure out exactly what they do, through a series of stunning experiments that reengineer the way fruit flies percieve light.

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The power of vulnerability | Brené Brown

Thu, 23 Dec 2010 14:45:00 +0000

Brené Brown studies human connection -- our ability to empathize, belong, love. In a poignant, funny talk, she shares a deep insight from her research, one that sent her on a personal quest to know herself as well as to understand humanity. A talk to share.

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Using our practical wisdom | Barry Schwartz

Fri, 31 Dec 2010 15:38:00 +0000

In an intimate talk, Barry Schwartz dives into the question "How do we do the right thing?" With help from collaborator Kenneth Sharpe, he shares stories that illustrate the difference between following the rules and truly choosing wisely.

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How to succeed? Get more sleep | Arianna Huffington

Mon, 03 Jan 2011 15:02:00 +0000

In this short talk, Arianna Huffington shares a small idea that can awaken much bigger ones: the power of a good night's sleep. Instead of bragging about our sleep deficits, she urges us to shut our eyes and see the big picture: We can sleep our way to increased productivity and happiness -- and smarter decision-making.

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The linguistic genius of babies | Patricia Kuhl

Tue, 15 Feb 2011 18:40:58 +0000

Patricia Kuhl shares astonishing findings about how babies learn one language over another -- by listening to the humans around them and "taking statistics" on the sounds they need to know. Clever lab experiments (and brain scans) show how 6-month-old babies use sophisticated reasoning to understand their world.

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How to use experts -- and when not to | Noreena Hertz

Mon, 21 Feb 2011 15:53:00 +0000

We make important decisions every day -- and we often rely on experts to help us decide. But, says economist Noreena Hertz, relying too much on experts can be limiting and even dangerous. She calls for us to start democratizing expertise -- to listen not only to "surgeons and CEOs, but also to shop staff."

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The social animal | David Brooks

Mon, 14 Mar 2011 14:58:00 +0000

Columnist David Brooks unpacks new insights into human nature from the cognitive sciences -- insights with massive implications for economics and politics as well as our own self-knowledge. In a talk full of humor, he shows how you can't hope to understand humans as separate individuals making choices based on their conscious awareness.

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On being wrong | Kathryn Schulz

Tue, 19 Apr 2011 13:53:25 +0000

Most of us will do anything to avoid being wrong. But what if we're wrong about that? "Wrongologist" Kathryn Schulz makes a compelling case for not just admitting but embracing our fallibility.

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The hidden power of smiling | Ron Gutman

Wed, 11 May 2011 14:14:00 +0000

Ron Gutman reviews a raft of studies about smiling, and reveals some surprising results. Did you know your smile can be a predictor of how long you'll live -- and that a simple smile has a measurable effect on your overall well-being? Prepare to flex a few facial muscles as you learn more about this evolutionarily contagious behavior.

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A light switch for neurons | Ed Boyden

Sun, 15 May 2011 12:24:00 +0000

Ed Boyden shows how, by inserting genes for light-sensitive proteins into brain cells, he can selectively activate or de-activate specific neurons with fiber-optic implants. With this unprecedented level of control, he's managed to cure mice of analogs of PTSD and certain forms of blindness. On the horizon: neural prosthetics. Session host Juan Enriquez leads a brief post-talk Q&A.

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