Brains at play

3 minutes

Playing distracts us from many vital activities. Why did we evolve to love it?

Like breathing, sleeping and eating, playing is innate in humans. But unlike those other functions, which could easily mean the difference between a long life and an early death, the usefulness of play isn’t quite as obvious. Brains at Play investigates play through the work of Jaak Panksepp, professor of integrative psychology and neuroscience at Washington State University, who conducted pioneering research on play. By performing surgery on rats, Panksepp discovered that the instinct to play exists in the primitive part of the mammalian brain, and has surprisingly important implications for social development.

Producer: John Poole

Website: NPR Ed

Video/History of Technology

Breakthroughs, quackery and strange beauty: the afterlife of outmoded medical devices

5 minutes

ORIGINAL
Video/Ethics

If soldiers act with unjust aggression they are as culpable as civilian criminals

6 minutes

ORIGINAL
Video/Neuroscience

A happy life is built on pleasures such as sex and food, but also company and variety

7 minutes

Essay/Wellbeing

Tripping in the ICU

For those suffering the trauma of intensive care, the soothing swoosh of otherworldly ambient music can be a welcome gift

Charles Fernyhough

Idea/Cognition & Intelligence

The bilingual brain: why one size doesn’t fit all

Angela Grant

Video/Cognition & Intelligence

Optical illusions show how past experience dramatically influences perception

4 minutes

Idea/Social Psychology

Dishonesty gets easier on the brain the more you do it

Neil Garrett

Video/Mental Health

An elderly man dedicates himself to saving lives at Japan’s ‘suicide cliffs’

40 minutes

Essay/Neuroscience

Living in the now

She can paint, but not name a painting; learn new music without knowing a tune. Lonni Sue is teaching us much about memory.

Michael D Lemonick