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The Brain: A Secret History

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Kitkat
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The Brain: A Secret History

Post by Kitkat on Thu 11 Jun 2015 - 16:52

More great stuff from Michael Mosley:
Michael Mosley studied medicine in London and qualified as a doctor but for the last 25 years he’s been working as a documentary maker and an award winning science journalist.

His programmes have won an RTS, an EMMY and he was named 'medical journalist of the year' by the British Medical Association for a ground breaking programme on Helicobacter pylori.

His most recent work includes two Horizons that looked at the benefits of high intensity exercise and intermittent fasting. Recently Infested! Living with Parasites, explored the world of parasites with Michael turning his body into a living laboratory and deliberately infesting himself with them. He’s also a regular presenter on The One Show.


If you missed the first episode (Mind Control)   :thumb: , there is a chance to catch up on BBC iPlayer (see below).

Meantime, Episode 2 (Emotions) is on BBC FOUR next Tuesday at 22:55



Episode 1
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00xhgkd

Mind Control
The Brain: A Secret History Episode 1 of 3


In a compelling and at times disturbing series, Dr Michael Mosley explores the brutal history of experimental psychology.

To begin, Michael traces the sinister ways this science has been used to try to control our minds. He finds that the pursuit of mind control has led to some truly horrific experiments and left many casualties in its wake. Extraordinary archive material captures what happened - scientists systematically change the behaviour of children, law-abiding citizens give fatal electric shocks and a gay man has electrodes implanted in his head in an attempt to turn his sexuality.

Michael takes a hallucinogenic drug as part of a controlled experiment to try to understand how its mind-bending properties can change the brain.

This is a scientific journey which goes to the very heart of what we hold most dear - our free will, and our ability to control our own destiny.


Episode 2
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00x7cb5

Emotions
The Brain: A Secret History Episode 2 of 3


Dr Michael Mosley continues his exploration of the brutal history of experimental psychology. Experiments on the human mind have led to profound insights into how our brain works - but have also involved great cruelty and posed some terrible ethical dilemmas.

In this film, Michael investigates how scientists have struggled to understand that most irrational and deeply complex part of our minds - our emotions.

Michael meets survivors - both participants and scientists - of some of the key historical experiments. Many of these extraordinary research projects were captured on film - an eight-month-old boy is taught to fear random objects, baby monkeys are given mothers made from wire and cloth, and an adult is deliberately violent before a group of toddlers.

Michael takes part in modern-day experiments to play his own small part in the quest to understand emotions.


Episode 3
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00xln23

Broken Brains
The Brain: A Secret History Episode 3 of 3


Dr Michael Mosley concludes his series exploring the brutal history of experimental psychology by looking at how experiments on abnormal brains have revealed the workings of the normal brain.

He meets remarkable individuals like Karen, who suffered from a rare condition - alien hand syndrome - which meant that one of her hands constantly attacked her. And Julia, who seems to have recovered from her stroke - until experiments reveal she is unable to recall the name of any object.

Michael explores the case of an amnesiac known for years only by his initials, HM, who became the most studied individual in the history of psychology and whose extraordinary case opened a window on how our memory works. He visits the multi-million dollar centre which has been set up since HM died to map his unique brain down to the level of an individual neuron.
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Re: The Brain: A Secret History

Post by Whiskers on Fri 12 Jun 2015 - 14:34

Very good.  Just finished watching number 1, the one about mind control.  Can't wait to see the other two.
The one about emotions should be interesting.

It was a bit hard to watch in places.  Some of those experiments  surprised  One question I need answering.  Question  The pigeon man, Skinner.  It said he was hanged --- sounded like they said in effigy.  Neutral  What exactly does that mean. confused   I don't think he was really hanged as such, was he?  Did they hang a picture or a stuffed doll that looked like him or what??  And if that's what happened, who did it?
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Re: The Brain: A Secret History

Post by Kitkat on Sat 13 Jun 2015 - 9:33

Whiskers wrote:It was a bit hard to watch in places.  Some of those experiments  surprised  One question I need answering.  Question  The pigeon man, Skinner.  It said he was hanged --- sounded like they said in effigy.  Neutral  What exactly does that mean. confused   I don't think he was really hanged as such, was he?  Did they hang a picture or a stuffed doll that looked like him or what??  And if that's what happened, who did it?

No, he wasn't hanged for real, Whiskers.  
Burning an Effigy is a symbolic act that means you strongly disagree or despise the viewpoint or deeds of the person whose likeness the Effigy represents.
As an example...say you are mad at someone..you make a puppet out of straw and make a face out of paper mache that sortof looks like that person. Then you hang the puppet in a tree and set it on fire. Dont do it as you'll probably get arrested but you get the idea.
The whole act carries more meaning when a large group of people gather to share the same dislike of the person whose image is being burned.

B.F. Skinner was widely disliked and thought of as not a very nice person, though a lot of the stuff that was written about him was exaggerated and untrue.  For instance, this story that did the rounds because it was told in a book written by Lauren Slater:

   [B.F. Skinner] used his infant daughter, Deborah, to prove his theories by putting her for a few hours a day in a laboratory box in which all her needs were controlled and shaped. He kept her caged for two full years, placing within her cramped square space bells and food trays and all manners of mean punishments and bright rewards, and he tracked her progress on a grid. And then, when she was thirty-one and frankly psychotic, she sued him for abuse in a genuine court of law, lost the case, and shot herself in a bowling alley in Billings, Montana. Boom-boom went the gun.

As it turns out, this passage was more "creative" than "non-fiction."

The Reality

Let's turn the microphone over to Deborah Skinner Buzan, who is still alive today, married in London. She wrote an extended letter to the UK paper The Guardian which was published on March 12, 2004:

   "Slater's sensationalist book rehashes some of the old stuff, but offers some rumours that are entirely new to me. For my first two years, she reports, my father kept me in a cramped square cage that was equipped with bells and food trays, and arranged for experiments that delivered rewards and punishments. Then there's the story that after my father "let me out", I became psychotic. Well, I didn't. That I sued him in a court of law is also untrue. And, contrary to hearsay, I didn't shoot myself in a bowling alley in Billings, Montana. I have never even been to Billings, Montana."

readmore    arrow   http://www.brainsturbator.com/posts/190/bf-skinners-daughter-is-alive-and-well

and of course, Skinner's daughter was featured in the documentary; one of my favourite parts, where it showed she has taught her cat (along the lines of some of her dad's research) to play the piano when it's hungry(!) - as each time he/she goes to the piano and strikes a chord or two he/she gets rewarded with a bit of chicken or a munchie.  purr
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Re: The Brain: A Secret History

Post by Kitkat on Sat 20 Jun 2015 - 23:12

Tell you what, Whiskers - if you found it hard to watch Episode 1, it doesn't get any easier; it actually gets a lot, lot worse!  Have you watched the other two yet?

I've just been listening to Episode 2 (Emotions) - not even half way through, and I've had to stop it and put it on hold.  Although read and heard a little about them, this is the first time I've seen the sort of experiments carried out by John Watson and although I understand the aim of the experiments I find it very difficult to actually watch and take in what's going on there (he filmed the actual experiments).  Maybe it's the fact that he used very young and vulnerable 'instruments' (an 8 month old baby, for goodness sake! and animals) in his experiments, with characters yet to be formed and/or victims who were totally enscapulated under his control, non-deserving of the horrible things that were happening to them and unable to understand or escape. Utterly cruel and heartless acts - all done and protected in the name of science.  I've had to stop for the moment, and right now I'm not sure if I will even be able to go back to continue watching.  Certainly not in the right state of mind at the moment ...  Curiosity might take me back again to continue on at a later time, but right now I really need to take a raincheck.
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Re: The Brain: A Secret History

Post by Whiskers on Mon 22 Jun 2015 - 11:13

Kitkat wrote:Tell you what, Whiskers - if you found it hard to watch Episode 1, it doesn't get any easier; it actually gets a lot, lot worse!  Have you watched the other two yet?

I've just been listening to Episode 2 (Emotions) - not even half way through, and I've had to stop it and put it on hold.  Although read and heard a little about them, this is the first time I've seen the sort of experiments carried out by John Watson and although I understand the aim of the experiments I find it very difficult to actually watch and take in what's going on there (he filmed the actual experiments).  Maybe it's the fact that he used very young and vulnerable 'instruments' (an 8 month old baby, for goodness sake!  and animals) in his experiments, with characters yet to be formed and/or victims who were totally enscapulated under his control, non-deserving of the horrible things that were happening to them and unable to understand or escape. Utterly cruel and heartless acts - all done and protected in the name of science.  I've had to stop for the moment, and right now I'm not sure if I will even be able to go back to continue watching.  Certainly not in the right state of mind at the moment ...  Curiosity might take me back again to continue on at a later time, but right now I really need to take a raincheck.

No. Have not watched the second one yet, but will definately have a look at the weekend. Family visiting all this week. No time.
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Re: The Brain: A Secret History

Post by Kitkat on Thu 25 Jun 2015 - 23:23

I have now watched Part 2 right the way through.  (Only 21 days left to watch - and really recommended watching, so don't miss out.)

Part 2, as it says in the title, deals with the 'seemingly irrational' part of our minds - Emotions.

Some more rather controversial scientific experiments.  The Fear one is particularly horrible, especially where the monkeys are involved and the made-up dolls to substitute for their mothers.

Then there is a series of extremely interesting experiments carried out on a guy called Dave, who had an operation to remove a tumour from his brain and somehow the part of his brain from where he experienced emotions also got removed.  This meant that all the emotions he once felt (love, fear, anger being 3 of the main ones) are now gone from his life; all he has left of his emotions are his memories of what he used to feel.  His IQ remains the same and he returned to his job as an animal psychologist. Unfortunately, what had been a loving relationship with his wife floundered and they later divorced, although remain very firm friends.

Now all he has to go through life (apart from those memories) is reason.  "If he saw someone crying, saw tears, he would know they were sad - reason would tell him that, but he could not feel it himself, nor empathise with others feeling emotions.

The gambling test with Antonio Damasio was a good one - the one that Dave took part in. (By 'good', I mean it wasn't putting anyone through any suffering or anything like that).  This study actually proved that (contrary to the general idea - that the best decisions are made out of thinking rationally ... the study demonstrated that reason without emotion is nothing.  It showed, on a personal level, how vital emotion is to feeling alive, and how crucial empathy is to even knowing who you are.

Our emotions are importantly central to becoming a rational, complex, fully-functioning human being.

This part ends with the big question ....  Were those experiments, despite how horrible they were for some and the awful effect they had on whole lives - were they worth it, for the knowledge that was gained from them?  The narrator of the programme thinks YES.  I disagree.  There are other ways to gain such knowledge and learning, ways that do not involve deliberately putting other living beings through such suffering and hardship - in the name of science.

    Current date/time is Thu 27 Jul 2017 - 23:34