Monsters and Demons (Ch4) investigates our ancestors’ supernatural beliefs and asks whether modern science can now provide alternative explanations. In episode 2 (Sat 3rd Dec 2011) Tony Robinson and I discussed how, in times before modern medical knowledge had figured out the facts and made them broadly available to all, certain forms of epileptic seizure could easily have been mistakenly attributed to evil spirits. In particular, temporal lobe epilepsy (these days better known as complex partial seizure disorder) can trigger vivid and sometimes deeply distressing hallucinations, whilst tonic-clonic seizures lead to grotesque-looking bodily contortions that, in times of old, could easily have been misunderstood and attributed to possession by malevolent spirits.
At the end of the day even if Beat City doesn’t inspire the desire to play a proper musical instrument, enabling the full brain-benefits of musical engagement to be earned, I believe it is nonetheless an effective way of challenging and thus improve your capacity for working memory, concentration and fine motor control that will come in useful in everyday life as well.
Tonight at 8pm GMT (Wed 16th Nov 2011) I make my second appearance on MTV Europe offering a few more neuroscience-informed flirting tips to fashion journalist Louise Roe’s latest Plain Jane – Jamie.
This time the date training was not set in the Swiss Alps but instead, a little closer to home, in Spitalfields market. I challenged Jamie to supercharge her womanly allure by offering free hand massages to unsuspecting young men whilst making chit chat along themes that should get their brain in a state of high excitement.
Once again using an understanding of what goes on in the brain when a person is in love can inform some easy-to-follow rules of thumb that: boost a person’s confidence, release the just the right cocktail of neurotransmitters and neurohormones in the target’s brain and encourage fluid conversational exchanges on topics that rapidly foster a bond between any two humans, whether romantic or otherwise.
Last summer, I was invited out to the beautiful alpine lake town of Montreaux (directly opposite the iconic mountains of Evian bottle fame, incidentally) to provide a little brain-informed date training. Having a neuroscientist provide inspiration to a girl trying to get ahead in the love game may sound a bit odd, but at the end of the day it is the brain after all that produces the experience of love in the first place. Understanding the prevailing conditions in which a brain is likely to fall into the state of being in love can provide some easy-to-follow rules of thumb that help to boost a person’s confidence – one of the most powerful tools in romance.
Cosmetic psychopharmacology, cognitive enhancement or simply smart drugs, call it what you will, the use of pharmaceutical agents like methylphenidate (Ritalin) and modafinil (Provigil) for performance enhancement and sleep avoidance is rife. Throughout big business, software development, academia, poker tournaments and – according to a recent academic paper – even the medical establishment itself, many healthy individuals are opting to optimise brain function with drugs specifically intended for the treatment of illnesses, simply to keep up with the breakneck pace of life in the 21st century.
A short film describing neuroscientist Dr Jack Lewis’s first 3 years in television. Since starting out in science consultancy for the Emmy award winning documentary “The Living Body” on National Geographic / Channel 4 and primetime quiz show Britain’s Best Brain on Channel 5, Jack has presented several TV series. His most recent roles do not feature in this showreel, but include The Tech Show currently airing on Discovery Science, contributions to a Tom Dyckhoff architecture and Tony Robinson history documentary on Ch4 and a monthly spot on ITV’s This Morning. This showreel features highlights from Dr Jack’s broadcast output up to and including 2010:
- Dr Jack co-presented a prime-time SkyOne series called Body Language Secrets exploring the themes of selling, attraction, winning, laughter, power, lying and money.
- Jack’s first big break as a presenter came with People Watchers (2008), a BBC2 series exploring the quirks of social psychology via a wide variety of different hidden camera experiments set throughout London.
- In his role as the Face of Faraday 2008 Dr Jack presented 4 short films which aired in school lessons across the UK and on Teacher’s TV. They were centred around the theme Technology for Life.
Talking openly and honestly about highly emotive topics like Alzheimer’s disease, and dementia in general, is a very delicate matter. Given the prevailing time pressures of live television and the quick/punchy explanations that it requires, there is always the potential to be misunderstood. This means that really hot topics must occasionally be left out in case they have the unintended effect of causing undue anxiety as opposed to the specific intention: inspiring the public with what we can do to hang onto our marbles well into old age. This brainpost reveals a new breakthrough in our understanding of Alzheimer’s disease, deemed too risky to mention live on ITV1’s This Morning in mid-August in case it was misconstrued, but which may one day be instrumental in keeping dementia at bay in each and every one of us.
What do green spaces (parks, fields, commons etc.) do to the human brain? Why do people drop litter? How does visible evidence of anti-social behaviour affect the way other people behave? How would people behave if those responsible for keeping one of London’s finest Royal Parks clean were to down tools for an entire weekend?
All of these questions were asked of Dr Jack by The One Show reporter Justin Rowlatt in Hyde Park where the Keep Britain Tidy campaign ran an interesting experiment over the weekend to see how people would react if the rubbish they dropped was left to accumulate. This brainpost details some of the background to Dr Jack’s comments on tonight’s show (BBC1, 7pm).
Since the success of Dr Jack’s inaugural live speaking events in late 2010 and early 2011, he is now represented by Britain’s largest speaker bureau. The Gordon Poole Agency has been running for almost half a century and they represent most of the biggest names on the live speaking circuit. From celebrity after dinner speakers to business and motivational speakers they provide corporate clients with a wide variety of options to choose from.
Contrast the lifestyles of people in their seventies who do and do not suffer from Alzheimer’s disease and clues about how to keep your brain ticking over nicely, well into old age, jump right out at you. Those who do not suffer with this dreaded disease tend to have been more committed to a regular exercise regime throughout their later years. They tend to have been more engaged in a wider array of social activities. They tend to have been careful with their diet in the long term, favouring a healthy Meditteranean-style diet over a typical modern Western diet. They also tend to have been more proactively involved with their local community and more motivated to seek regular mental stimulation. People are now being advised to adopt a variety of brain-healthy habits if they wish to reduce the likelihood of developing cognitive deficits that the progression of Alzheimer’s disease can, but does not always, induce.