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New TV Program Explores the Human Brain

On October 14 the U.S. Public Broadcast Service, PBS, will begin airing a six-part series called “The Brain with David Eagleman,” in which the famed neuroscientist from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas demonstrates what science has learned about the most complex thing in the known universe.

In the six-part program Eagleman demonstrates how our brains create what we perceive as reality and how what we are is a construct within the brain’s circuitry that is never complete.

“We are not fixed; from cradle to grave, we are works in progress,” said Eagleman. “I think what people will find, I hope, if I have done my job right, is an inroad into understanding themselves a little bit better.”

In a presentation in Houston, Eagleman spoke of his fascination with the human brain’s complexity.

“The brain contains a hundred billion neurons… and every single neuron in your brain is about as complicated as the city of Houston,” he said.

In sample clips from his series, Eagleman showed experiments he and other researchers have done to learn how the brain works.

He shows how simple actions involve many coordinated brain patterns influenced by impulses that sometimes compete.

He said the conscious, reasoning part of the brain sometimes struggles with the basic impulses from the larger, unconscious part of the brain.

“When you are faced with some temptation, like warm chocolate-chip cookies in front of you, part of your brain wants that, part of your brain says, ‘Don’t eat that; you are going to get fat’ and you can argue with yourself,” he explained.

In the series, Eagleman also looks ahead to where brain research may lead in the future and he says there is a lot more to learn.

“Why do brains sleep and dream? What is intelligence? How do you build consciousness out of pieces and parts? Those questions are still open territory,” said Eagleman.

The PBS series “The Brain with David Eagleman” airs in the United States beginning Wednesday.

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