Mysteries of the Mind

Available to watch on-demand now

This collection reveals some of the mysteries of the mind from how the brain works to why our mind play tricks on us and brings to light the brain's superpower.

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DatesAvailable to watch on-demand now
Talks structure30 minute lecture20 minute Q&A

4 talks in this Garden Series



Human Biology & Medicine
How do our waking lives meet our sleeping brains?

We know some of the basic factors that can disrupt sleep: caffeine, blue light, stress... But how does the way we spend our waking time change our sleeping brain? Read more

Dr Lauren N. Whitehurst

University of Kentucky

What makes a night of sleep "good"? Staying asleep the whole night? Falling asleep once your head hits the pillow? Waking up refreshed and ready for your day? How does "good" sleep at night prepare you for a day filled with social interaction, cognitive challenges and emotional tests?

These are the questions that Dr Lauren N. Whitehurst explores in her sleep lab every day! She asks questions about what happens in the brain while we sleep and the effect of sleep on our waking behaviors. She focuses on how we can define "good" sleep based on physiological data and how sleep supports cognition and learning. She also examines how our daily experiences may impact sleep. Specifically, she explores how stress may deter good sleep and how sleep-stress interactions impact cognitive function. Dr Whitehurst is particularly interested in the role that the lack of access to restorative sleep can play in the accelerated aging of communities historically underserved by science and medicine in the US.

Dr Whitehurst received her BS in Psychology and an MA in Experimental Psychology from James Madison University, and her PhD in Psychology from the University of California, Riverside. She also completed a Chancellor's Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Center for Health and Community and the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco, and is currently an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Kentucky.

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Human Biology & Medicine
Psychology & Behaviour
Why does the mind create real symptoms in the absence of disease?

The body can create a shocking array of symptoms, from paralysis to seizures, seemingly without any medical explanation. Is the brain responsible, and if so, why does it do it? Read more

Dr. Suzanne O'Sullivan


Suzanne O’Sullivan has been a consultant in neurology since 2004, first working at The Royal London Hospital and now as a consultant in clinical neurophysiology and neurology at The National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, and for a specialist unit based at the Epilepsy Society.

She specialises in the investigation of complex epilepsy and also has an active interest in psychogenic disorders. Suzanne’s book about psychosomatic illness, It's All in Your Head, won both the Wellcome Book Prize and the Royal Society of Biology Book Prize.

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Human Biology & Medicine
Society & Politics
Is the human brain pink, blue or fifty shades of grey matter?

Do the anatomical differences between men and women extend to the biology of the brain? Or does it all come down to environmental influence? Read more

Prof. Gina Rippon

Aston University

Gina Rippon is an Emeritus Professor of Cognitive Neuroimaging at the Aston Brain Centre in Aston University, and past president of the British Association for Cognitive Neuroscience.

Her research involves state-of-the-art brain imaging techniques to investigate developmental disorders such as autism. She also investigates the use of neuroscience techniques to explore social processes, particularly those associated with sex/gender issues. She is an outspoken critic of 'neurotrash', the populist (mis)use of neuroscience research to (mis)represent our understanding of the brain. Her book on this topic The Gendered Brain, has been described as "Highly accessible and revolutionary to a glorious degree" (Observer).

Rippon has spoken at many events worldwide, most recently at the Sydney Opera House and the EU Commission. She has given keynote addresses to business organisations and to government policy groups, including the UK's Cabinet Office and the Government's Gender Equality Unit. She also writes for popular science outlets such as New Scientist, Scientific American and The Conversation, as well as contributing to programmes such as BBC's Horizon, Woman's Hour and The Infinite Monkey Cage.

In 2015, she was made an Honorary Fellow of the British Science Association for services to the communication of science.

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Psychology & Behaviour
Philosophy & Religion
How can psychedelics help us understand consciousness?

How can someone on an acid trip see sounds or hear colours? And why do some people have this same experience all the time, drug-free? Read more

Dr. David Luke

University of Greenwich

Few people have explored altered states of mind as much as David. His research led him into an adventure in one of the world’s most fascinating subjects: consciousness. From running clinical drug trials with LSD, to conducting DMT field experiments to observing apparent weather control with Mexican shamans, he is involved in a variety of fascinating activities. He also studied techniques of consciousness alteration from South America to India, from the perspective of scientists, shamans and Shivaites. 

David is Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Greenwich, where he has been teaching an undergraduate course on the Psychology of Exceptional Human Experience since 2009. These days, you will most likely find him in Sussex connecting with the land and building pirate tree houses. If not there, you will need to wait for him to come back from one of his expeditions exploring exotic trance rituals, psychedelic indigenous tribes or one of his shamanic pilgrimages across mountains and deserts.

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