“Hallucination, Imagination, Dreams & Drugs” — Podcast 8: Oliver Sacks

On Episode 8 of the Connectome podcast, Ben talks with Oliver Sacks, renowned neuroscientist and author of such books as The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, Musicophilia and Hallucinations. In particular, Sacks joins us to talk about some patients of his who’ve been hallucinating strange varieties of musical notation. But musical hallucinations are only the beginning – Sacks also shares his insights on dreams, hallucinogenic drugs, selfhood, and plenty of other phenomena that make subjective experience so mysterious. Whether you’re new to Dr. Sacks’ work or a lifelong fan of his writing, this interview raises some consciousness-related … Continue reading “Hallucination, Imagination, Dreams & Drugs” — Podcast 8: Oliver Sacks

“Senses That Bleed” — Podcast 5: David Eagleman

Ben chats with David Eagleman, author of the international bestseller Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain. Eagleman’s lab mainly studies the ways our brains encode sensory perceptions – but as you’ll hear, he’s also fascinated by questions on the nature of consciousness, synesthesia, meaning and representation, and even the potential development of new human senses. Eagleman starts by talking about his new paper on overlearned sequences (word lists like days of the week or months of the year), but he also describes some findings in a 2009 paper he authored. Both papers are available for free online, and they’re … Continue reading “Senses That Bleed” — Podcast 5: David Eagleman

The Worm Did It!

The basic “scaffolding” for the vertebrate brain has been found in an unexpected distant relative: a marine worm, a new study reports. The worm’s brain is much simpler than that of even the simplest vertebrates – but it contains three signaling centers almost identical to those found in the brains of vertebrate embryos. I leaped up and did a happy dance when I read this news, because it’s a clue to one of the greatest mysteries in neuroscience today. See, for most of science history, evolutionary biologists have found the vertebrate brain to be pretty enigmatic. The closest relatives of … Continue reading The Worm Did It!

Mixed-Up Memories

Just a minute of physical exertion can seriously impair a person’s memory of the threat that triggered it, says a new study. When we undergo a strenuous task, such as a chase or a fight, immediately after witnessing an event, we have much less ability to remember the event’s details than if we’d taken time to process what we’ve seen. This calls the concept of eyewitness testimony into serious question. As I’ve written here and Jonah Lehrer has written here, our memories aren’t nearly as static as we might like to think. In fact, each time we recall a memory, … Continue reading Mixed-Up Memories

“Consciousness, Dreams & Drugs” — Podcast 2

On the second Connectome podcast, Ben muses about three of the hottest topics in neuroscience today: what “consciousness” might be, how it relates to dreams, and how drugs can play some strange tricks on that relationship. Enjoy, and feel free to email us questions and suggestions for next time!   (Produced by Devin O’Neill) Continue reading “Consciousness, Dreams & Drugs” — Podcast 2