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NOVA scienceNOW: How Does The Brain Work?

Airs Wednesday, June 29, 2011 at 10 p.m. on KPBS TV

Above: (From left to right) Neuroscientists Susana Martinez-Conde and Stephen Macknik and "NOVA scienceNOW" host Neil deGrasse Tyson observe Teller, the silent half of comedy magic duo Penn & Teller, as he performs his famous cups and ball trick.

The Uses of TMS

In this interview, Neuroscientist Mark George answers questions about transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and how it treats depression.

This episode of NOVA scienceNOW delves into some pretty heady stuff, examining magic and the brain, artificial intelligence, magnetic mind control, and the work of neuroscientist and synesthesia researcher David Eagleman. Can we really believe our own eyes? Will machines one day think like us? Can magnetic wands effectively control brain functions and treat depression? Explore this and more.

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Preview: NOVA scienceNOW: How Does The Brain Work?

Watch the full episode. See more NOVA scienceNOW.

Above: This episode of "NOVA scienceNOW" delves into some pretty heady stuff, examining magic and the brain, artificial intelligence, magnetic mind control, and the work of neuroscientist and synesthesia researcher David Eagleman. Can new science help us understand how the brain allows us to think, act, feel, behave and process the world around us?

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Change Blindness

Watch the full episode. See more NOVA scienceNOW.

Above: Psychologists who study the fascinating phenomenon of change blindness know that merely looking at something is not the same as actively paying attention to it. As the demonstration in this video shows, people can be blind to significant changes in a visual scene that are obvious to someone who expects that these changes are going to happen.

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Magic and Autism

Watch the full episode. See more NOVA scienceNOW.

Above: Tapping into social cues to trick their audience, magicians rely on a phenomenon called joint attention. Most audience members will pay attention to what a magician is looking at—so a magician can direct their attention away by looking in the opposite direction. People on the autistic spectrum can have trouble picking up on the cues of joint attention and may not be fooled by a magician's sleight of hand. Researchers are now looking to magic as a useful technique to teach children with autism how to read social cues.