Top 5 mind benders: Weird things we’ve learned about the brain

April 11, 2012

Afternoon Shift

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As Gabriel Spitzer hangs up his Clever Apes labcoat and heads to Seattle, we asked him to share some of what he's learned from producing the podcast. Here are his top five mind benders:

1. A 19th century scientistdeveloped a weird treatment for Parkinson’s – shaking the patient. A neurologist at Rush University, a devotee of Charcot, is resurrecting that hypothesis and subjecting it to a clinical trial.

2. From a piece on how first memories form. This clip dramatizes how memories get reinforced in very young kids, featuring my son Ezra. Oh yeah. It’s cute.

3. A neuroscientist explained how hallucinations are governed by the same mathematics as other complex networks, and display the same kinds of patterns as things like clouds or sand on the beach.

4. Rush gastroenterologist Ali Keshavarzian explained the concept of why the gut is considered a “second brain.”

5. My friend Alex Karczmar, an accomplished neuroscientist who is now 94 is obsessed with the neurological basis of self-consciousness, and explores his feelings about death. We examine what lets his brain stay so sharp, but mostly it's just a taste of his personality.