Author: This Is Your Brain producer

Language originates as brain signals—mysterious lines of squiggles—that somehow turn into speech. Meet the neuroscientist who is turning those squiggles into conversations, using artificial intelligence to translate brain activity into words and sentences. Dr. Edward Chang of UCSF talks with Dr. Stieg about the painstaking “magic” of decoding that has allowed a paralyzed man to speak after 20 years of aphasia, essentially live streaming signals from his brain and transforming them into language. Plus, why are A.I. voices always female? Phil Stieg: Hello, I’d like to welcome Dr. Edward Chang, professor, and chair of neurological surgery at the University of…

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We are programmed by evolution to be anxious – fear was a lifesaver for early humans! So are why are some 21st century humans crippled by it? Catherine Pittman, PhD, chair of psychology at Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, is an expert on how different parts of the brain create and manage anxiety, and how to overcome it. Learn just how fast your amygdala responds to a threat (before you even perceive it), and how your cortex jumps in to process the information. Turns out your amygdala has been watching too much Cortex TV, and you can train your…

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It’s effective against depression, can help you stop smoking, and even ease end-of-life distress. It’s non-addictive, naturally occurring, and has been used for thousands of years — but you can’t have it. It’s psilocybin, the compound that creates the “magic” in dozens of species of mushrooms. Johns Hopkins researcher Albert Garcia-Romeu, Ph.D. knows just how magical it is. He’s conducting research on psilocybin’s therapeutic value for everything from persistent Lyme disease to a range of mental health conditions. Find out what this psychedelic drug can do, and why it got such a bad reputation. Plus…revisiting Timothy Leary’s rise and fall as…

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Can’t remember the fourth item on your grocery list? Nelson Dellis, a professional “memory athlete,” can remember 100 things or more (though he still may forget the butter). Hear how Dellis learned to memorize lists so long that he became a five-time USA Memory Champion, and how you can use some of his strategies to improve your own memory. Dellis explains how he uses tricks like the “memory palace” and mnemonic devices to recall lengthy lists with perfect accuracy. In an era when cell phones are making memory superfluous, you can regain some of those lost skills by using his…

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Synesthesia is the mysterious mingling of the senses that creates the experience of “seeing” sounds or “hearing” colors. Neurologist Richard E. Cytowic, M.D. has spent his career exploring this remarkable phenomenon, and has some fascinating insight into how these sensations are formed in the brain, and how we might use it to reunite our fractured society. Plus… meet the man whose extreme form of synesthesia mingled all five of his senses! Dr. Phil Stieg: Hello and welcome to Dr. Richard Cytowic, the man who revolutionized our understanding of synesthesia. What is synesthesia? How common is it? How may it affect…

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Many of us speak with our hands, but what is this signaling really communicating? Dr. Susan Goldin-Meadow, an expert on gestures and professor of psychology and comparative human development at the University of Chicago, shares the significance of gesturing when speaking, and ways our hands can reveal more than we realize. Plus… learn what NOT to do with your hands to avoid unintended insults while traveling to do different countries! Dr. Phil Stieg: Most of us know someone who uses their hands when they talk, but we rarely think about what they are trying to say with them or why…

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