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Keith Barry does brain magic
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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Dan Pink on the surprising science of motivation
Career analyst Dan Pink examines the puzzle of motivation, starting with a fact that social scientists know but most managers don't: Traditional rewards aren't always as effective as we think. Listen for illuminating stories -- and maybe, a way forward.
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Jill Bolte Taylor's stroke of insight
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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The surprising science of happiness
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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Your brain on video games
How do fast-paced video games affect the brain? Step into the lab with cognitive researcher Daphne Bavelier to hear surprising news about how video games, even action-packed shooter games, can help us learn, focus and, fascinatingly, multitask. (Filmed at TEDxCHUV.)
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Listening to shame
Shame is an unspoken epidemic, the secret behind many forms of broken behavior. Brené Brown, whose earlier talk on vulnerability became a viral hit, explores what can happen when people confront their shame head-on. Her own humor, humanity and vulnerability shine through every word.
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Matthieu Ricard on the habits of happiness
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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Optical illusions show how we see
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.
The brain in love
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.
Why we make bad decisions
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.
Feats of memory anyone can do
There are people who can quickly memorize lists of thousands of numbers, the order of all the cards in a deck (or ten!), and much more. Science writer Joshua Foer describes the technique -- called the memory palace -- and shows off its most remarkable feature: anyone can learn how to use it, including him.
What hallucination reveals about our minds
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.
The riddle of experience vs. memory
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.
Different ways of knowing
Daniel Tammet has linguistic, numerical and visual synesthesia -- meaning that his perception of words, numbers and colors are woven together into a new way of perceiving and understanding the world. The author of "Born on a Blue Day," Tammet shares his art and his passion for languages in this glimpse into his beautiful mind.
A Darwinian theory of beauty
TED collaborates with animator Andrew Park to illustrate Denis Dutton's provocative theory on beauty -- that art, music and other beautiful things, far from being simply "in the eye of the beholder," are a core part of human nature with deep evolutionary origins.
My son was a Columbine shooter. This is my story
Sue Klebold is the mother of Dylan Klebold, one of the two shooters who committed the Columbine High School massacre, murdering 12 students and a teacher. She's spent years excavating every detail of her family life, trying to understand what she could have done to prevent her son's violence. In this difficult, jarring talk, Klebold explores the intersection between
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What's so funny about mental illness?
Diseases of the body garner sympathy, says comedian Ruby Wax -- except those of the brain. Why is that? With dazzling energy and humor, Wax, diagnosed a decade ago with clinical depression, urges us to put an end to the stigma of mental illness.
How we read each other's minds
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.
The optimism bias
Are we born to be optimistic, rather than realistic? Tali Sharot shares new research that suggests our brains are wired to look on the bright side -- and how that can be both dangerous and beneficial.
A brain in a supercomputer
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.
The quest to understand consciousness
Every morning we wake up and regain consciousness -- that is a marvelous fact -- but what exactly is it that we regain? Neuroscientist Antonio Damasio uses this simple question to give us a glimpse into how our brains create our sense of self.
What is so special about the human brain?
The human brain is puzzling -- it is curiously large given the size of our bodies, uses a tremendous amount of energy for its weight and has a bizarrely dense cerebral cortex. But: why? Neuroscientist Suzana Herculano-Houzel puts on her detective's cap and leads us through this mystery. By making "brain soup," she arrives at a startling conclusion.
The linguistic genius of babies
At TEDxRainier, 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.
How your "working memory" makes sense of the world
"Life comes at us very quickly, and what we need to do is take that amorphous flow of experience and somehow extract meaning from it." In this funny, enlightening talk, educational psychologist Peter Doolittle details the importance -- and limitations -- of your "working memory," that part of the brain that allows us to make sense of what's happening right now.
The mysterious workings of the adolescent brain
Why do teenagers seem so much more impulsive, so much less self-aware than grown-ups? Cognitive neuroscientist Sarah-Jayne Blakemore compares the prefrontal cortex in adolescents to that of adults, to show us how typically “teenage” behavior is caused by the growing and developing brain.
Exploring the mind of a killer
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.
A monkey that controls a robot with its thoughts. No, really.
Can we use our brains to directly control machines -- without requiring a body as the middleman? Miguel Nicolelis talks through an astonishing experiment, in which a clever monkey in the US learns to control a monkey avatar, and then a robot arm in Japan, purely with its thoughts. The research has big implications for quadraplegic people -- and maybe for all of
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Trust, morality -- and oxytocin
What drives our desire to behave morally? Neuroeconomist Paul Zak shows why he believes oxytocin (he calls it "the moral molecule") is responsible for trust, empathy and other feelings that help build a stable society.
Human nature and the blank slate
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.
How brain science will change computing
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.
The real reason for brains
Neuroscientist Daniel Wolpert starts from a surprising premise: the brain evolved, not to think or feel, but to control movement. In this entertaining, data-rich talk he gives us a glimpse into how the brain creates the grace and agility of human motion.
Ian Dunbar on dog-friendly dog training
Speaking at the 2007 EG conference, trainer Ian Dunbar asks us to see the world through the eyes of our beloved dogs. By knowing our pets' perspective, we can build their love and trust. It's a message that resonates well beyond the animal world.
Will our kids be a different species?
Throughout human evolution, multiple versions of humans co-existed. Could we be mid-upgrade now? At TEDxSummit, Juan Enriquez sweeps across time and space to bring us to the present moment -- and shows how technology is revealing evidence that suggests rapid evolution may be under way.
What do babies think?
"Babies and young children are like the R&D division of the human species," says psychologist Alison Gopnik. Her research explores the sophisticated intelligence-gathering and decision-making that babies are really doing when they play.
On being just crazy enough
At TED's Full Spectrum Auditions, comedian Joshua Walters, who's bipolar, walks the line between mental illness and mental "skillness." In this funny, thought-provoking talk, he asks: What's the right balance between medicating craziness away and riding the manic edge of creativity and drive?
Dan Ariely on our buggy moral code
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.
Can we build AI without losing control over it?
Scared of superintelligent AI? You should be, says neuroscientist and philosopher Sam Harris — and not just in some theoretical way. We're going to build superhuman machines, says Harris, but we haven't yet grappled with the problems associated with creating something that may treat us the way we treat ants.
The social animal
Tapping into the findings of his latest book, NYTimes 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
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A monkey economy as irrational as ours
Laurie Santos looks for the roots of human irrationality by watching the way our primate relatives make decisions. A clever series of experiments in "monkeynomics" shows that some of the silly choices we make, monkeys make too.
The technology of the heart
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.
I am my connectome
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.
A map of the brain
How can we begin to understand the way the brain works? The same way we begin to understand a city: by making a map. In this visually stunning talk, Allan Jones shows how his team is mapping which genes are turned on in each tiny region, and how it all connects up.
Your brain is more than a bag of chemicals
Modern psychiatric drugs treat the chemistry of the whole brain, but neurobiologist David Anderson believes in a more nuanced view of how the brain functions. He illuminates new research that could lead to targeted psychiatric medications -- that work better and avoid side effects. How's he doing it? For a start, by making a bunch of fruit flies angry. (Filmed
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How electroshock therapy changed me
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.
Memes and "temes"
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
Why some people are more altruistic than others
Why do some people do selfless things, helping other people even at risk to their own well-being? Psychology researcher Abigail Marsh studies the motivations of people who do extremely altruistic acts, like donating a kidney to a complete stranger. Are their brains just different?
Tom Wujec on 3 ways the brain creates meaning
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?
Michael Merzenich on re-wiring the brain
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.
Toward a new understanding of mental illness
Today, thanks to better early detection, there are 63% fewer deaths from heart disease than there were just a few decades ago. Thomas Insel, Director of the National Institute of Mental Health, wonders: Could we do the same for depression and schizophrenia? The first step in this new avenue of research, he says, is a crucial reframing: for us to stop thinking
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Suddenly, my body
Poet, writer, activist Eve Ensler lived in her head. In this powerful talk from TEDWomen, she talks about her lifelong disconnection from her body -- and how two shocking events helped her to connect with the reality, the physicality of being human.
A light switch for neurons
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
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Kwabena Boahen on a computer that works like the brain
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.
How your brain tells you where you are
How do you remember where you parked your car? How do you know if you're moving in the right direction? Neuroscientist Neil Burgess studies the neural mechanisms that map the space around us, and how they link to memory and imagination.
Could future devices read images from our brains?
As an expert on cutting-edge digital displays, Mary Lou Jepsen studies how to show our most creative ideas on screens. And as a brain surgery patient herself, she is driven to know more about the neural activity that underlies invention, creativity, thought. She meshes these two passions in a rather mind-blowing talk on two cutting-edge brain studies that might point
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Your brain on improv
Musician and researcher Charles Limb wondered how the brain works during musical improvisation -- so he put jazz musicians and rappers in an fMRI to find out. What he and his team found has deep implications for our understanding of creativity of all kinds.
Inside the mind of a master procrastinator
Tim Urban knows that procrastination doesn't make sense, but he's never been able to shake his habit of waiting until the last minute to get things done. In this hilarious and insightful talk, Urban takes us on a journey through YouTube binges, Wikipedia rabbit holes and bouts of staring out the window — and encourages us to think harder about what we're really
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Marvin Minsky on health and the human mind
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.
We can start winning the war against cancer
Learn about the latest advances in the war against cancer from Stanford researcher Adam de la Zerda, who's working on some cutting-edge techniques of his own. Using a remarkable imaging technology that illuminates cancer-seeking gold particles injected into the body, de la Zerda's lab hopes to light the way for surgeons to remove even the tiniest trace of deadly
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What happened when I open-sourced my brain cancer
When artist Salvatore Iaconesi was diagnosed with brain cancer, he refused to be a passive patient — which, he points out, means "one who waits." So he hacked his brain scans, posted them online, and invited a global community to pitch in on a "cure." This sometimes meant medical advice, and it sometimes meant art, music, emotional support — from more than half a
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Protecting the brain against concussion
In a lively talk from TEDxDU, neuropsychologist Kim Gorgens makes the case for better protecting our brains against the risk of concussion -- with a compelling pitch for putting helmets on kids.
Gregory Petsko on the coming neurological epidemic
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.
A simple way to break a bad habit
Can we break bad habits by being more curious about them? Psychiatrist Judson Brewer studies the relationship between mindfulness and addiction — from smoking to overeating to all those other things we do even though we know they're bad for us. Learn more about the mechanism of habit development and discover a simple but profound tactic that might help you beat your
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Daniel Goleman on compassion
Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence, asks why we aren't more compassionate more of the time.
Could a drug prevent depression and PTSD?
The path to better medicine is paved with accidental yet revolutionary discoveries. In this well-told tale of how science happens, neuroscientist Rebecca Brachman shares news of a serendipitous breakthrough treatment that may prevent mental disorders like depression and PTSD from ever developing. And listen for an unexpected — and controversial — twist.
Your words may predict your future mental health
Can the way you speak and write today predict your future mental state, even the onset of psychosis? In this fascinating talk, neuroscientist Mariano Sigman reflects on ancient Greece and the origins of introspection to investigate how our words hint at our inner lives and details a word-mapping algorithm that could predict the development of schizophrenia. "We may be
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How computers are learning to be creative
We're on the edge of a new frontier in art and creativity — and it's not human. Blaise Agüera y Arcas, principal scientist at Google, works with deep neural networks for machine perception and distributed learning. In this captivating demo, he shows how neural nets trained to recognize images can be run in reverse, to generate them. The results: spectacular,
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How my mind came back to life — and no one knew
Imagine being unable to say, "I am hungry," "I am in pain," "thank you," or "I love you,” — losing your ability to communicate, being trapped inside your body, surrounded by people yet utterly alone. For 13 long years, that was Martin Pistorius’s reality. After contracting a brain infection at the age of twelve, Pistorius lost his ability to control his movements and
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The brain may be able to repair itself — with help
Through treating everything from strokes to car accident traumas, neurosurgeon Jocelyne Bloch knows the brain's inability to repair itself all too well. But now, she suggests, she and her colleagues may have found the key to neural repair: Doublecortin-positive cells. Similar to stem cells, they are extremely adaptable and, when extracted from a brain, cultured and
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Everything you hear on film is a lie
Sound design is built on deception — when you watch a movie or TV show, nearly all of the sounds you hear are fake. In this audio-rich talk, Tasos Frantzolas explores the role of sound in storytelling and demonstrates just how easily our brains are fooled by what we hear.
Don't fear superintelligent AI
New tech spawns new anxieties, says scientist and philosopher Grady Booch, but we don't need to be afraid an all-powerful, unfeeling AI. Booch allays our worst (sci-fi induced) fears about superintelligent computers by explaining how we'll teach, not program, them to share our human values. Rather than worry about an unlikely existential threat, he urges us to
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What will humans look like in 100 years?
We can evolve bacteria, plants and animals — futurist Juan Enriquez asks: Is it ethical to evolve the human body? In a visionary talk that ranges from medieval prosthetics to present day neuroengineering and genetics, Enriquez sorts out the ethics associated with evolving humans and imagines the ways we'll have to transform our own bodies if we hope to explore and
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How young blood might help reverse aging. Yes, really
Tony Wyss-Coray studies the impact of aging on the human body and brain. In this eye-opening talk, he shares new research from his Stanford lab and other teams which shows that a solution for some of the less great aspects of old age might actually lie within us all.
Clues to prehistoric times, found in blind cavefish
TED Fellow Prosanta Chakrabarty explores hidden parts of the world in search of new species of cave-dwelling fish. These subterranean creatures have developed fascinating adaptations, and they provide biological insights into blindness as well as geological clues about how the continents broke apart million of years ago. Contemplate deep time in this short talk.
Inge Missmahl brings peace to the minds of Afghanistan
When Jungian analyst Inge Missmahl visited Afghanistan, she saw the inner wounds of war -- widespread despair, trauma and depression. And yet, in this county of 30 million people, there were only two dozen psychiatrists. Missmahl talks about her work helping to build the country's system of psychosocial counseling, promoting both individual and, perhaps, national
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