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The Secret World of Pain [electronic resource]

Some people suffer chronic pain long after an injury has healed, while others can jump from a two-story building and not feel a thing. This film reveals the physiological foundations of both scenarios as it examines the mechanics of pain perception. Viewers meet a family whose unique genetic code has lent insight into the sensation of pain, while a man who cut off his own arm to save his life describes what he felt - and what he didn't feel - during the unthinkable experience. Researchers are finding that even early childhood events play a role in the ability to tolerate pain, and that a blend of neurology and psychology yields promising new treatments in its management.

Perception [electronic resource]

Carried in the womb, carried by their parents, and, finally, carried by their own two feet, children are continuously absorbing the stimuli of their world. In this program, mothers and fathers and a wide range of specialists provide insights into the stages of perception experienced in the first three years of life. Topics related to the perception process include parental roles in child-raising, the daily interactions that mold the physiology of the infant brain, the effect of a child's sex on parental expectations and societal acceptance, and enculturation through naming and ceremonies. Not available in French-speaking Canada.

The Fly Agaric Mushroom [electronic resource]: Sacred Weeds

Siberian shamans used the fly agaric mushroom to access a world inhabited by small, elf-like beings, while Victorian artists often depicted elves sitting atop a fly agaric's cap. In this program, Oxford archaeology professor Andrew Sherratt compares the effects of fly agaric on volunteers to the effects described in traditional accounts. The experiment is attended by a psychiatrist interested in how the drug affects the brain, a neuropsychologist measuring spatial perception, and an ethnobotanist assessing the volunteers' subjective report of the experience. The group cannot agree: Does fly agaric distort our perception of the world, or does it allow a glimpse of a different reality? Part of the series Sacred Weeds.

Sight [electronic resource]: Science of the Senses

Seeing requires an immense amount of cerebral power - more than 65 percent of the brain's neural pathways. That massive machinery has been intensely studied, and yet scientists continue to be surprised by what we see with our eyes, what we actually perceive with our brains, and discrepancies between the two. This program takes viewers on a fascinating tour of the visual "assembly line," from the moment light enters our pupils to the way this information is transformed into electrical impulses and decoded by our brains. Viewers learn about discoveries involving patients suffering from a variety of visual disorders, including a case study of a late blind patient undergoing treatment with neuroscientist Alvaro Pascual-Leone and his research group at Harvard Medical School. Links between [...]

Smell and Taste [electronic resource]

Many people wrongly assume that between our senses of taste and smell, taste dominates. But what actually allows us to differentiate one food from another - especially when we venture beyond the basics of sweet, sour, salty, savory, and bitter - is the aroma. This program explores how smell combines with taste somewhere in our brains to create the perception of flavor. In on-camera experiments and interviews, a Toronto chef discovers innate sensory characteristics that may explain his skill in the kitchen, while a woman who has been robbed of her sense of smell describes how that loss affects her daily experience. An outstanding teaching tool for pointing out the importance of two mysterious and often misunderstood senses.

Pleasure and Pain [electronic resource]

Exactly how much chocolate can someone eat before enjoyment turns into disgust? Why do people choose to experience the terrifying sensations of bungee-jumping? Can forcing a smile actually create happiness? Using entertaining experiments and person-on-the-street interviews, this program takes a look at the science behind pleasure, pain, and the link between the two. Viewers meet new parents high on the hormone oxytocin, a man who cut off his own arm when he became trapped in farm machinery, and a child born with congenital insensitivity to pain. The role of the brain's reward system in these and other, more common activities - falling in love, the anticipation of pain - is examined.

Touch [electronic resource]

It is expressive, intuitive, and complex in its design and function. No sense defines us more than our tactile ability, and yet most of us go through life completely unaware of the myriad ways we depend on and benefit from it. Journeying through the skin, into the subcutaneous world of our sensory receptors, and into the brain, this program explores the amazing capabilities of what many believe is the most crucial interface between the inner self and the outside world. Along the way viewers meet a man who has developed a range of strategies to compensate for the loss of his sense of touch. And what do a race car driver and a surgeon have in common? The answer sheds further light on the uncanny ways in which the human body uses this extraordinary sense.
2008; 2013

The Magic of the Unconscious [electronic resource]: Automatic Brain

The brain decides things before we can consciously think about it, says Allan Snyder, director of the University of Sydney's Centre for the Mind. "Decisions are almost dictated to us." In this program neuroscientists join Las Vegas magicians to explain-and vividly demonstrate-the interplay of unconscious promptings with conscious thought. Delving into the physiological basis of cognition, Snyder and other experts discuss snap judgments, facial recognition, and love at first sight. The video features segments that allow viewers to test their attentiveness with the shell game and the famous "invisible gorilla" experiment.

The Power of the Unconscious [electronic resource]: Automatic Brain

When Chesley Sullenberger's plane became disabled over New York City his quick thinking saved the lives of all those aboard. Neil Armstrong relied on the same combination of split-second decision-making and gut instinct to override a computer glitch and manually land Apollo 11 on the Moon. This program explains the science behind gut feelings and makes the point that conscious thoughts are actually fed to us by the unconscious mind. Experts including Allan Snyder, Helen Fisher, and John Bargh discuss the neurophysiology of falling in love, decision-making, bias, and more, and Snyder presents a test of "thinking outside the box" in which viewers can participate.

The Problem of Subjectivity in the Medical History: Lessons From Neurology

Dr. Rosenfield, professor of history at the City University of New York discusses the idea that perceptions are part of a "stream of consciousness" that neuroscientific models have failed to capture. He uses clinical examples to show that perception and memory are integral parts of consciousness.
Health Sciences (Rare Shelves)

The Enchanted Loom [electronic resource]: Processing Sensory Information

The brain-the "Enchanted Loom," as Sir Charles Sherrington, one of the founders of modern brain research, called it-is the most intricate, almost unfathomably complex product of evolution. It is a tapestry woven of a hundred billion threads-the fibers of all its nerve cells. Computers have large memories and prodigious abilities to calculate, but are slow at interpreting visual images that the human brain recognizes at a glance. This program looks at the range of sensory information that is transmitted to the human cerebral cortex, and examines how the brain sorts and classifies sensory information, searching for clues and interpreting them on the basis of expectation, past experience, and information from other sources. The senses provide the information, and the brain provides the [...]
2007; 1983

The Senses [electronic resource]: Skin Deep

This, the first of two programs on the senses, looks at those sense receptors that depend on contact with the immediate world: taste buds, touch sensors, and olfactory cells. These receptors also sense heat, pain, and pressure. The complex world just beneath the skin is re-created with realistic models, showing events like the pulling of a hair seen from the viewpoint of the root.
2005; 1984

The Senses [electronic resource]

This program examines the role that our senses play in providing us with information about the world around us. Our brain depends upon the information from all our senses being integrated so that the brain is provided with consistent data that it can use to direct our actions. The program demonstrates how the senses of sight and balance operate as well as how they interact with each other. The program provides a complete introduction to the following topics: The visual system; The vestibular system; The relationship between the brain and the sensory organs; Using modern technology to overcome our sensory limitations
2005; 1995

Touch [electronic resource]: Forgotten Sense

This program examines the significance and the beauty of tactile sensation. The sensory impact of touch and feel on quality of life is studied through mother/baby bonding; touch therapy for preemies and victims of physical abuse; Tadoma, a touch-based form of communication for people who are Deaf and blind; and an experimental touch-based interface designed to help people without sight to visualize, while a case study of Guillain-Barre syndrome explores the ramifications of losing the ability to sense via the skin. Featured experts include Tiffany Field, of the Touch Research Institute; Jules Older, author of Touch Is Healing; Carol Crook, of the Perkins School for the Blind; and neuroscientist Paul Bach-y-Rita.
2006; 2001

War of the Sexes [electronic resource]: Spatial Abilities

Packing the trunk, finding the right road, parking in a tight spot-are these masculine tasks, best accomplished with a man's mechanical aptitude and spatial reasoning? This program resists broadly brushed stereotypes, but does identify disparities in the ways men and women operate machines, manipulate tools, focus on tasks, and navigate. Accompanying two teams as they race to organize and complete an extended car trip, the program juxtaposes a woman's use of personal reference points and outside assistance with the male penchant for self-reliance and schematic course-plotting-while observations from psychologists and neurologists link these tendencies with brain evolution.
2006; 2005

The Color of Sound [electronic resource]

From the noise of our urban landscape to the musical cocoons created by high-tech devices, sound may be our most lively and versatile interface with the world. This program takes viewers on a sonic odyssey that assesses the frequently overlooked impact of what we hear. Defining the concept of sound, the documentary takes a mind-blowing CGI tour through the human ear and its vibration-decoding systems. The film also demonstrates the importance of sound in our spiritual and religious lives, while musical research at Edinburgh University highlights the link between sound patterns and human movement. Several experts, from physicists to sound engineers to audio artists, contribute to this exploration of our sonic world.
2008; 2007

I Hear With My Eyes [electronic resource]

Julie loves the glorious colors associated with the sound of a rooster crowing, while Mandi remembers phone numbers by their hues. Until John read a newspaper article about synesthesia in later life, he thought that everyone saw the days of the week as various shades of blue. In this program people with synesthesia describe their experiences and perceptions, and the benefits and drawbacks of having a condition in which the barriers between the senses are dissolved. While it might seem like a psychedelic drug trip to the 96 percent of the population who don't have synesthesia, those who do report that "You don't go around saying, 'Oh, wow!'... it's just the way we perceive life.

Conquer Silence [electronic resource]: Restore Hearing

More than 31.5 million Americans have some degree of hearing loss, and an estimated three out of every 1,000 children in the United States may be born with hearing loss. Whether it's present at birth, or happens suddenly or gradually over time, hearing loss can leave a person feeling isolated from friends and family. Some hearing loss can be treated with traditional therapies like hearing aids, while other degrees of hearing loss may require more advanced treatments. This program examines some of the latest treatments to help people get their hearing back. It features interviews with patients who have lived with hearing loss and shows how their lives have changed for the better since they were able to treat their condition.

Henbane [electronic resource]: The Witches Brew? Sacred Weeds

Also known as the devil's weed, henbane has long been associated with demons and black magic. In this program Oxford anthropology professor Andrew Sherratt investigates whether alteration of the senses by henbane is responsible for medieval accounts of witches turning into animals or flying. Under medical supervision, volunteers took a dose and then answered questions posed by a pharmacologist, an expert on cultural beliefs about witches, and the author of several works on ritual use of hallucinogens. Teasing out the historical truths from lurid ecclesiastical reports, the group speculates on how and why an anti-hallucinogen attitude evolved in Europe.

TEDTalks [electronic resource]: Al Seckel, Your Brain Is Badly Wired, Enjoy It!

Cognitive neuroscientist Al Seckel takes great delight in visual illusions and the brain mechanics that they reveal. In this TEDTalk, Seckel - "acknowledged as one of the world's leading authorities on illusions," says - explores the subject of perceptual illusions using eye tricks that help him prove that not only is the brain easily fooled, such deceptions can actually make us feel happy!