Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘TED’

19 JANUARY, 2011

HBO’s Temple Grandin: Recasting Autism

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Nearly a year ago, we had the pleasure of seeing author, animal scientist, Hug Machine inventor, and avid autism advocate Temple Grandin speak at TED 2010. A few months later, HBO released the semi-biographical film Temple Grandin, telling the story of the woman whose extraordinary work recast autism as “different” rather than “lesser” in the public eye and used the power of visual thinking to create more humane systems for animal farming. With Claire Danes as Grandin in a surprisingly excellent fit and powerful delivery, HBO earned nominations in 15 Emmy categories and won 5 awards for a film that’s part living manifesto for following your gut, part new ethos for our relationship to animals.

The thing is, the normal mind drops out the details. But the autism mind sees all the details. That’s more like the animal mind, because animals are centric thinkers — they think in pictures, they think in smells, they think in sounds.” ~ Temple Grandin

The film is now out on DVD and we couldn’t recommend it more.

See the real thing in her element with this fantastic TED talk on the importance of diversity of minds.

For more of Grandin’s remarkable work, we highly recommend Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior — an absolutely fascinating and deeply illuminating read on one of the great mysteries of science and philosophy: What goes on in the minds of animals.

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17 JANUARY, 2011

The Tell-Tale Brain: The Neuroscience of Being Human

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The question of what it means to be human is something we’ve explored before, and something humanity has grappled with for eons. Now, a compelling new answer may be before us.

V.S. Ramachandran is one of the most influential neuroscientists of our time, whose work has not only made seminal contributions to the understanding of autism, phantom limbs and synesthesia, among other fascinating phenomena, but has also helped introduce neuroscience to popular culture. The fact that he is better-known as Rama — you know, like Prince or Madonna or Che — is a fitting reflection of his cultural cachet.

Today, Rama releases his highly anticipated new book: The Tell-Tale Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Quest for What Makes Us Human — an ambitious exploration of everything from the origins of language to our relationship with art to the very mental foundation of civilization.

As heady as our progress [in the sciences of the mind] has been, we need to stay completely honest with ourselves and acknowledge that we have only discovered a tiny fraction of what there is to know about the human brain. But the modest amount that we have discovered makes for a story more exciting than any Sherlock Holmes novel. I feel certain that as progress continues through the coming decades, the conceptual twists and technological turns we are in for are going to be at least as mind bending, at last as intuition shaking, and as simultaneously humbling and exalting to the human spirit as the conceptual revolutions that upended physics a century ago. The adage that fact is stranger than fiction seems to be especially true for the workings of the brain.” ~ V. S. Ramachandran

You can sample Rama’s remarkable quest to illuminate the brain with his excellent 2007 TED talk:

Both empirically rooted in specific patient cases and philosophically speculative in an intelligent, grounded way, with a healthy dose of humor thrown in for good measure, The Tell-Tale Brain is an absolute masterpiece of cognitive science and a living manifesto for the study of the brain.

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07 JANUARY, 2011

TED Unbound: Behind the Scenes of a TED Talk

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We’re longtime lovers of TED. (To an obsessive degree, some would argue.) Last year, we took a behind-the-scenes look at the incredible energy — physical, intellectual, emotional — that goes into the making of a TED talk. Today, from executive producer Jason Wishnow and filmmakers Josh Nussbaum and Todd Banhazl comes a rare look at the riveting, nerve-wrecking world of TED’s greatest asset — the speakers — as they hone that signature blend of world-changing genius and inspired humility that makes TED TED.

The thing is not to get self-conscious. It’s just like playing the piano. If you play the piano and suddenly start looking at your fingers… the music will stop.” ~ Sir Ken Robinson

Relive some of that magic with our live coverage of TED 2010, complete with photos and exclusive soundbites, and go deeper with these 7 must-read books by TED speakers.

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