What's on Your Mind in That Brain of Yours?
Science Rules! with Bill Nye
Consider this episode of Science Rules! a user manual for how you think, feel and remember, as we explore the nature of consciousness with neuroscientist Dr. Heather Berlin.This episode is sponsored by Progressive Insurance (www.progressive.com), ZipRecruiter (www.ziprecruiter.com/SCIENCERULES), The Great Courses Plus (www.thegreatcoursesplus.com/SCIENCERULES). and Turo.
In this episode
- 03:23 - Who is Dr. Heather Berlin?
- 05:34 - What are scientists trying to discover with the brain?
- 06:59 - What happens when you have a thought?
- 07:28 - What’s the easy problem of consciousness?
- 07:50 - What’s the hard problem of consciousness?
- 11:55 - Is it possible for scientists to predict our choices?
- 16:40 - When do we make better decisions?
- 25:05 - Why is it difficult to remember boring things, but easy to remember exciting things?
- 28:28 - Why do people tend to react than the understand the conversation?
- 32:19 - Why are proper nouns harder to remember?
- 38:34 - Why are we still so sleepy when we wake up?
- 41:19 - Why is no caffeine best for sleeping?
- 41:52 - Do physical activities help us wake up better?
- 45:06 - Is hypnosis real?
- 48:58 - What goes on between a hypnotizer and the one being hypnotized?
- 50:25 - What happens with decisions we make?
- 51:12 - Do hypnotherapy strategies really help us?
- 53:08 - Did the Matrix get anything right?
Smash Notes summary for this episode
Who is Dr. Heather Berlin?
She is a long time acquaintance of Bill Nye. He states that Dr. Berlin is among the world’s foremost authorities on the physiology of the brain and the nature of consciousness.
What are scientists trying to discover with the brain?
They are trying to figure out the neural correlates of consciousness. Scientists for different ways to peer into the brain in real time while it’s active and functioning.
What happens when you have a thought?
When you have a thought, there are specific sets of neurons firing that represent that thought in your brain. Scientists will try to track a thought in order to make a correlation.
What’s the easy problem of consciousness?
That scientists can track every thought or feeling to a specific set of neurons firing to make a correlation. It’s a hard problem to solve, but theoretically, they can correlate every thought, feeling, and perception we may have.
What’s the hard problem of consciousness?
It’s being able to bridge the gap of why the physical mechanisms should correspond to a subjective experience. Why should the brain feel anything during these subjective states?
Is it possible for scientists to predict our choices?
Dr. Berlin states that they can observe the build up of brain activity of a person prior to when they actually make the decision. They can base the prediction with accuracy up to 10 seconds before the person is consciously aware of the decision to make. Your brain can make free decisions, but you’re the last person to know about it.
When do we make better decisions?
We make better decisions when we allow our unconscious state to operate on many variables to make a decision that way, which is also called post decision satisfaction. Our unconscious can manipulate variables to make a decision if it’s a simple thing. As we think longer and more critically about life altering decisions, we tend to distract ourselves during the process.
Why is it difficult to remember boring things, but easy to remember exciting things?
Dr. Berlin states that first off, the brain cannot remember everything because t would be too much information. The brain needs to select the important information to remember. One reason that we remember certain things is due to emotions being tagged with a significant event.
Why do people tend to react than the understand the conversation?
The physiological process of information that goes to your brain is focused on either what you’re hearing or how you will respond next in the conversation. You have to consciously make yourself refocus on the conversation if you start to drift from it.
Why are proper nouns harder to remember?
It’s because they aren’t common or regular nouns. Like a name, you have to really make a conscious effort to associate that name. Otherwise, it’s random information you won’t remember because it doesn't seem as important.
Why are we still so sleepy when we wake up?
Dr. Berlin states that usually when we wake up, it takes about a half hour— subjectively speaking— for the brain to turn on. Some studies have found after the first half hour of sleep, the switching mode capacity between sleep and alertness isn’t as efficient to switch from daily, dreamy mode to attentive mode.
Why is no caffeine best for sleeping?
It’s because your body is seeking a homeostasis to stabilize. It could be better for your physiology to not put in substances that play around with your neurochemistry.
Do physical activities help us wake up better?
It is a useful strategy to implement into your day as you're beginning to wake up. Doing physical activities can increase blood flow to the brain.
Is hypnosis real?
Dr. Berlin states that hypnosis relates to suggestibility. There parts of our brain that are active and self-aware. When parts of our brain are turned down, our ego and self-awareness are lessened. We become vulnerable and are able to take suggestions much more easily.
What goes on between a hypnotizer and the one being hypnotized?
Dr. Berlin states that there’s some sort of silent agreement between them, especially if it’s in front of an audience. There’s a social pressure to play along, and a conscious agreement to obey their commands.
What happens with decisions we make?
Most of our decisions we make happen because of things that are occurring in the brain outside of awareness. Magicians and hypnotizers capitalize on these things.
Do hypnotherapy strategies really help us?
When the prefrontal cortex is turned on, scientists can see that it down regulates memories and emotions that are still affecting our behavior. In hypnosis, it’s a way to turn down the activation of the prefrontal cortex to easily access and manipulate things so we don’t repeat our behaviors.
Did the Matrix get anything right?
Dr. Berlin says it did. One example is the idea that we could have this whole universe within our minds. Theoretically, we could download something and learn it. It's all in our minds. She even states that we could be living in the Matrix.