Pieces of Mind

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Pieces of Mind
This playlist was created by on Wednesday, December 16, 2009.

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Pieces of Mind (56:26)

Weighing just a few pounds, the brain is responsible for the body’s complete function. Aiming for insights into his own brain, host Alan Alda talks with scientists studying how the brain dreams, stores memories, and sorts language in this classic program from the Scientific American Frontiers series. Mike Gazzaniga, one of the world’s leading brain scientists; Jim McGaugh, of the University of California, Irvine; noted memory researcher Dan Schacter; Harvard Medical School’s Bob Stickgold; and Helen Neville, of the University of Oregon, are featured. Distributed by PBS Distribution. (60 minutes)

Introduction to Pieces of Mind (01:03)
Host Alan Alda offers a quick summary of the presentation to come.

Man with Two Brains (00:59)
Michael Gazzaniga a leading brain scientist works with Joe, cutting corpus callosum to prevent spread of seizure producing "electric storms" in the brain. Also prevented right and left halves from communicating.

Drawing with Both Sides of the Brain (01:18)
Normally, the left half of the brain controls the right side of the body and vice versa. Joe demonstrates by simultaneously drawing different shapes with each hand that the halves of his brain work independently

Split Brain Communication (04:05)
Joe can describe an image projected to his right visual field (left hemisphere), but when the same image was displayed to the left visual field, the right brain saw the image and could mobilize a nonverbal response.

Recognizing Faces: Right Brain Survival Skill (03:43)
Michael Gazzaniga, a leading brain scientist, believes that the left hemisphere's desire to find cause and effect is the its most marvelous property. Gazzaniga shows split brain subject Joe, Arcimboldo's paintings of faces composed of fruit, flowers, meat and books to learn how the halves of Joe's brain interpret these images.

Fight or Flight: Left Brain Survival Skill (03:50)
Research with rats supports the theory that the adrenaline rush is central to making stronger memories, a potentially lifesaving function.

Human Subjects: Adrenaline and Memory (03:06)
The research team recreates the adrenaline effect in human subjects

Relationship Between Emotion and Memory (01:40)
PET scan imagery shows activity in the amygdala during memory formation. Emotions create the connections between the importance of an event and how well we remember that event.

Memories are Malleable (05:11)
Dan Schacter's research explores the powerful effect of photographs on our memory of events.

Brain Anatomy: Hippocampus and Memory (01:36)
The brain stores memories in the areas that correspond with the sensation, sights sounds, etc. The hippocampus functions as an index for memories, keeping track of what is where. Parts of memory are not always pulled together accurately.

PET Scan Experiment: Brain Action During Recall (02:11)
In an audio experiment, true memories light up the auditory cortex and false memories did not, leading researchers to believe that under certain conditions, true and false memories may be detected by PET scans.

Sleep Experiment: Preparation (02:25)
Research subject Alan Alda prepares for a sleep experiment by first taking a test that measures how well his brain makes associations. Next the machine that measures REM is tested.

Sleep Experiment: Word Association Test (03:32)
Researchers wake sleep subject Alan Alda during a period of REM and give him the word association test.

Where do the Stories of our Dreams come from? (01:33)
It is commonly held that during REM sleep the normal signals to the brain from our bodies are cut off. Without input from eyes and ears, the visual and auditory centers are flooded with signals from the more primitive regions of the brain.

Dreams: Making Sense of Nonsense (00:42)
Subjects awakened from REM sleep (versus from non-REM sleep or fully awake persons) make faster word associations. It's as if during REM sleep our brains are primed to put together stories from random images and feelings.

Sleep Experiment: Does Dreaming Help Us Learn? (02:54)
After learning a complicated logic game, research subjects deprived of dreaming sleep perform the game poorly compared to those who achieved two REM periods of sleep.

Sleep Experiment: Memory Test (00:46)
Research indicates that the ability to memorize alone doesn't appear to be vulnerable to REM sleep loss. Tasks where memorization and application of rules are needed are vulnerable to REM sleep loss.

Sleep Experiment: Can Dreams Enhance Learning? (01:22)
Student research volunteers hear a loud clock while learning a logic game. During sleep, some subjects subjects wear earphones and hear ticks when in REM sleep. These subjects later performed better in the logic game.

Brain Study: Preparation (02:05)
Research subject Alan Alda is fitted with electrodes so researchers can accurately measure his brain activity. It is essential to reduce muscle activity to a minimum so brain signals can come through.

Language Processing: Adults (01:09)
In adults, vocabulary words are processed in different places in both left and right hemispheres. Grammar words are concentrated in parts of the left hemisphere.

Language Learning: Early is Better (01:54)
Very young children process language all over the brain. By about age four or five, the typical adult specialized areas for processing language have developed; this has important implications for education.

Limitations of Delayed Language Acquisition (02:14)
Unlike later learners, those who learn a second language early develop it in the same parts of the brain as the first language. Sound and grammar suffer from delayed learning of a second language. Non-native English speakers demonstrate.

Brain: Biased But Malleable (02:20)
Brain scans of a deaf subject show how the parts of his brain normally associated with sound contribute to processing of sign language. Researchers know that the brain can be modified within limits--and time limits--according to need.

Future of Neuroscience (01:17)
Helen Neville, of the University of Oregon likes to talk to school kids about neuroscience. The brain may be the final frontier of science and she encourages kids to think about how they may be part of that exploration.

Future of Neuroscience (01:17)
Helen Neville, of the University of Oregon likes to talk to school kids about neuroscience. The brain may be the final frontier of science and she encourages kids to think about how they may be part of that exploration.