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Senses and Sensation
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Mystery of the Senses: A Nova Miniseries

This documentary series explores the wonders of hearing, smell, taste, touch, and vision with a blend of science and imagery, literature and folklore, history and personal adventure.
Ivy (By Request)

Sensation and Perception [electronic resource]

Focuses on the ways personal experience can influence perception. Describes how sense receptors function, how the brain processes sensory information, how expectations, values and prejudices influence perception, and the use of error and illusion as investigative techniques. Includes commentary by Dr. David Hubel of Harvard University and Dr. Misha Pavel of the Oregon Graduate Institute of Science and Technology.

Hearing [electronic resource]: Science of the Senses

Our ears may have evolved for purposes of survival, but they also afford us the gift of music. How is it that a melody can "give wings to the mind," as Plato said, and so profoundly affect the human heart? In this program, finding the answer to that question will take viewers on a journey through the ear, into the brain, and straight into the core of the human psyche. Viewers meet world-class neuroscientists like Daniel Levitin, author of This Is Your Brain on Music, and Steven Pinker, author of The Stuff of Thought. Stories and case studies reveal a woman whose brain cannot "hear" music and a deaf musician who is one of the world's top percussionists. Meanwhile, Dr. Blake Papsin of Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children shows how a revolutionary device called the cochlear implant is r [...]

Shedding Light on Color [electronic resource]

Color adds beauty to our lives and helps us express our deepest feelings, but what exactly is it? This video lays out the scientific principles at the heart of that question, examining the relationship between light and color, the physical and chemical properties that create it, and the ways in which humans and animals perceive it. Viewers are shown how light can be broken down into component colors-or, more accurately, wavelengths-and are given simple demonstrations that clarify important concepts. These include paint mixing studies, electricity and magnetism experiments, and computerized diagrams that show how various energy wavelengths correspond to specific colors and color ranges. A fascinating introduction to light, its effects, and how it colors our world!

Shedding Light on Reflection [electronic resource]

Using exciting live-action demonstrations and easy-to-understand animation, this video delves into the fundamental concepts of reflection and its relationship to light, vision, and the physical world. Topics include: What is reflection? How do mirrors form images? How do they reflect light differently depending on their properties? In what way are mirror images different from two-dimensional photographs? How does our ability to see in three dimensions affect the way we see mirror images? Can animals see things in mirrors? And how do periscopes work? These questions, and many more, are answered in this entertaining and informative program, which includes a variety of optical illusions and magic tricks that incorporate reflection. Viewers will never look into a mirror in the same way again!

Shedding Light on Refraction [electronic resource]

Anyone standing in front of a mirror will instantly recognize the concept of reflection at work, but to observe the process of refraction and to develop an in-depth knowledge of it is quite a different story. This video helps students understand how light behaves when it passes through transparent materials and how refraction plays a role in nature and in human life. With engaging explanations and no-nonsense animation, the program explains the refractive index, incident ray, angle of incidence, refracted ray, angle of refraction, normal line, and what it means for light to turn "toward the normal" or "away from the normal." Helpful graphics illustrate the velocities at which light travels through a vacuum, air, water, and glass, and how these speeds are used in physics and optics ca [...]

Shedding Light on Curved Mirrors [electronic resource]

Most of us have experienced the amusement (and possible embarrassment) that goes with standing in front of a distorted funhouse mirror. What many people don't realize is that convex and concave mirrors are actually quite useful. Beginning with a basic discussion of reflection in flat mirrors, this video shows how curved mirrors are used in a wide variety of industrial and safety-related applications. Viewers learn how convex mirrors are important tools in automobile driving, traffic management, and security due to their outwardly curved surfaces…and likewise, how concave mirrors produce images and how concave reflectors are incorporated into designs for headlights, satellite dishes, solar cookers, and more. The concept of angle of incidence is discussed in detail. As a departure poin [...]

Breaking the Wall of Bad Taste [electronic resource]: How Psychophysics and Neurophysiology Can Improve Our Food Choices

If only we could trust flavor as a guide to a healthy diet - instead, our taste for food depends on a complex combination of factors, including appearance, texture, odor, and pungency, as well as on our earliest eating habits formed during infancy and childhood. As one of the acclaimed initiators of the field of molecular gastronomy, Per Møller analyzes food sensation, reward, and appetite under a holistic approach that includes psychophysics, neurophysiology, neuropsychology, and neuroeconomics. Møller is a professor at the University of Copenhagen, where he directs a Master's-level course on food choice and acceptance, and the editor in chief of Flavor Magazine, a multidisciplinary journal focusing on all aspects of flavor. In this Falling Walls lecture, Møller offers unique insigh [...]

Breaking the Wall of Sensory Overload [electronic resource]: How Primate Neuroscience Reveals the Mechanisms of Our Perception

We know that attention disorders such AD/HD, or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, affect more than four percent of the population and are connected to other neuropsychiatric disorders. However, the neural circuits and computations underlying attention remain poorly understood. Stefan Treue, professor of cognitive neuroscience and biological psychology at the German Primate Center and University of Göttingen, is providing a more rigorous description of the correlates and signatures of attention in neural activity - and thereby starting to identify the sources of attentional influences on neural activity and perception. Treue was recently honored with the prestigious Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize from the DFG (German Research Foundation) for his experimental study of the prim [...]

False Memories [electronic resource]: Skepticism, Susceptibility, and the Impact on Psychotherapy

The early 1990s saw a dramatic rise in the use-or misuse-of repressed memory as a psychoanalytic tool. While more and more therapists were encouraging their adult patients to revive supposedly long-buried recollections of childhood sexual abuse, a small minority of experts began to question that methodology-chief among them a cognitive psychologist named Elizabeth Loftus. This film shows how Dr. Loftus challenged the trend of memory "recovery" even as she expanded and enriched the study of human memory in contemporary psychology. Interviews with Loftus are combined with fascinating accounts of her role as an expert witness in the trial of George Thomas Franklin as well as her groundbreaking studies in imagination inflation, the uncertainty of eyewitness testimony, and the positive us [...]

How Does Your Brain Recognize Faces? [electronic resource]

Researchers found that specific nerve clusters are responsible for identifying facial differences.

Optical Illusion Can Improve Your Golf Game [electronic resource]

A clever mind game may help you score a birdie!

Taking Better Photos for Mobile Devices [electronic resource]

Neuroscientists study how people view images and recommend tips for photographers.

Texting While Driving [electronic resource]: Creating the Perfect Storm of Distraction

Human factors psychologists show how texting while driving has dangerous effects on driver performance.

Inside the Animal Mind [electronic resource]: You Are What You Sense

Chris Packham explores the remarkable ways animals use their senses. Focusing on dogs, he discovers how their powerful sense of smell creates a bizarre alternative reality.

The Face [electronic resource]: The Evolution of Beauty

Is there a universal characteristic that defines beauty? Has the human gene pool been altered over the millennia by a process of selection based on this characteristic? In this program, experts from Harvard, Yale, and the University of California explore facial evolution, the brain's specialized ability to recognize familiar faces, the ways in which expressions are used to actively and passively communicate, the intricacies of craniofacial surgery, facial recognition by computers, and the technology that can produce an artificially made face. In addition, prosopagnosia (the inability to recognize faces), Mobius syndrome (also known as dead face), and the reconstruction of a congenitally deformed face are investigated using case histories.

Neuromarketing [electronic resource]: Programming the Brain to Buy

More and more companies are turning to neuromarketing-a controversial practice that involves studying the human brain and how a consumer's neural pathways might respond to certain stimuli. It's based on the idea that 90 percent of the choices we make happen at a subconscious level. The goal is to bypass our higher reasoning and even our emotional judgment to sell more products. An obvious case study in neuromarketing comes from McDonald's. They developed a perfume which was subtly diffused in restaurants to increase brand association and boost sales. Proctor & Gamble also tried a similar trick. Sales of Ariel washing powder increased by 70 percent after an artificial perfume was placed under the lid. But is exploiting the way we're wired legitimate marketing, or is it closer to Orwel [...]

Shedding Light on Lenses [electronic resource]

Without lenses, vast areas of human knowledge, from astronomy to microbiology, would never have developed - not to mention photography and the movies! This video uses compelling animation sequences and other visuals to explain how convex and concave lenses produce images in a wide variety of situations. After a concise overview of refraction, the program illustrates how magnifying glasses work and how projectors cast images onto cinema screens. It then looks, quite literally, into a tuna fish's eye as a basis for showing how vision works. After further explaining how light travels through concave lenses, the film discusses how corrective eyewear helps people who have vision defects. Viewers are also given a chance to consider aspects of slow motion, fast motion, and stop motion image [...]

How Science Works [electronic resource]: Bad Vibes

What's the worst sound in the entire world? It's a question that's certain to produce more than one opinion. To get as many answers as possible, acoustic engineer Trevor Cox created an Internet experiment that generated millions of responses to the query. Cox also developed a system of compiling, organizing, and interpreting the results, and he describes his investigation in this fascinating video. Viewers will gain insight into the collection and analysis of scientific data, quantitative and qualitative research methods, and the role of the peer review process-the scientific community's time-tested way of validating new findings.