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TED Theme: How the Mind Works

At a conference about ideas, it’s important to step back and consider the engine that creates them: the human mind. How exactly does the brain -- a three-pound snarl of electrochemically frantic nervous tissue -- create inspired inventions, the feeling of hunger, the experience of ...

At a conference about ideas, it’s important to step back and consider the engine that creates them: the human mind. How exactly does the brain -- a three-pound snarl of electrochemically frantic nervous tissue -- create inspired inventions, the feeling of hunger, the experience of beauty, or the sense of self -- and how reliable is it? Dan Dennett contemplates the mind as an ecosystem in which a new class of entities -- memes -- can compete, coexist, reproduce and flourish, and asks what sorts of nefarious things these entities might be up to. An enthusiastic Dan Gilbert presents his new research on the peculiar, counterintuitive -- and perhaps a smidge deflating -- secret to happiness. And Jeff Hawkins explains why a napkin-sized sheaf of cellular matter, wrinkled into a ball, will fundamentally change the direction of the computer industry.

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    Elizabeth Loftus: How reliable is your memory?

    Psychologist Elizabeth Loftus studies memories. More precisely, she studies false ...

    Psychologist Elizabeth Loftus studies memories. More precisely, she studies false memories, when people either remember things that didn't happen or remember them differently from the way they really were. It's more common than you might think, and Loftus shares some startling stories and statistics -- and raises some important ethical questions.

    Sep 23, 2013 Read more
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    Apollo Robbins: The art of misdirection

    Hailed as the greatest pickpocket in the world, Apollo Robbins ...

    Hailed as the greatest pickpocket in the world, Apollo Robbins studies the quirks of human behavior as he steals your watch. In a hilarious demonstration, Robbins samples the buffet of the TEDGlobal 2013 audience, showing how the flaws in our perception make it possible to swipe a wallet and leave it on its owner’s shoulder while they remain clueless.

    Sep 13, 2013 Read more
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    Kelly McGonigal: How to make stress your friend

    Stress. It makes your heart pound, your breathing quicken and ...

    Stress. It makes your heart pound, your breathing quicken and your forehead sweat. But while stress has been made into a public health enemy, new research suggests that stress may only be bad for you if you believe that to be the case. Psychologist Kelly McGonigal urges us to see stress as a positive, and introduces us to an unsung mechanism for stress reduction: reaching out to others.

    Sep 4, 2013 Read more
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    Steve Ramirez and Xu Liu: A mouse. A laser beam. A manipulated memory.

    Can we edit the content of our memories? It’s a ...

    Can we edit the content of our memories? It’s a sci-fi-tinged question that Steve Ramirez and Xu Liu are asking in their lab at MIT. Essentially, the pair shoot a laser beam into the brain of a living mouse to activate and manipulate its memory. In this unexpectedly amusing talk they share not only how, but -- more importantly -- why they do this. (Filmed at TEDxBoston.)

    Aug 15, 2013 Read more
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    Eleanor Longden: The voices in my head

    To all appearances, Eleanor Longden was just like every other ...

    To all appearances, Eleanor Longden was just like every other student, heading to college full of promise and without a care in the world. That was until the voices in her head started talking. Initially innocuous, these internal narrators became increasingly antagonistic and dictatorial, turning her life into a living nightmare. Diagnosed with schizophrenia, hospitalized, drugged, Longden was discarded by a system that didn't know how to help her. Longden tells the moving tale of her years-long journey back to mental health, and makes the case that it was through learning to listen to her voices that she was able to survive.

    Aug 8, 2013 Read more
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    Alex Laskey: How behavioral science can lower your energy bill

    What's a proven way to lower your energy costs? Would ...

    What's a proven way to lower your energy costs? Would you believe: learning what your neighbor pays. Alex Laskey shows how a quirk of human behavior can make us all better, wiser energy users, with lower bills to prove it.

    Jun 4, 2013 Read more
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    Thomas Insel: Toward a new understanding of mental illness

    Today, thanks to better early detection, there are 63% fewer ...

    Today, thanks to better early detection, there are 63% fewer deaths from heart disease than there were just a few decades ago. Thomas Insel, Director of the National Institute of Mental Health, wonders: Could we do the same for depression and schizophrenia? The first step in this new avenue of research, he says, is a crucial reframing: for us to stop thinking about “mental disorders” and start understanding them as “brain disorders.” (Filmed at TEDxCaltech.)

    Apr 16, 2013 Read more
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    Dan Ariely: What makes us feel good about our work?

    What motivates us to work? Contrary to conventional wisdom, it ...

    What motivates us to work? Contrary to conventional wisdom, it isn't just money. But it's not exactly joy either. It seems that most of us thrive by making constant progress and feeling a sense of purpose. Behavioral economist Dan Ariely presents two eye-opening experiments that reveal our unexpected and nuanced attitudes toward meaning in our work. (Filmed at TEDxRiodelaPlata.)

    Apr 10, 2013 Read more
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    Colin Camerer: When you're making a deal, what's going on in your brain?

    When two people are trying to make a deal -- ...

    When two people are trying to make a deal -- whether they’re competing or cooperating -- what’s really going on inside their brains? Behavioral economist Colin Camerer shows research that reveals how badly we predict what others are thinking. Bonus: He presents an unexpected study that shows chimpanzees might just be better at it.

    Mar 28, 2013 Read more
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    Miguel Nicolelis: A monkey that controls a robot with its thoughts. No, really.

    Can we use our brains to directly control machines? Miguel ...

    Can we use our brains to directly control machines? Miguel Nicolelis suggests yes, showing how a clever monkey in the US learned to control a robot arm in Japan purely with its thoughts. The research has big implications for quadraplegic people -- and in fact, it powered the exoskeleton that kicked off the 2014 World Cup.

    Feb 18, 2013 Read more
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