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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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    Scott Fraser: Why eyewitnesses get it wrong

    Scott Fraser studies how humans remember crimes -- and bear ...

    Scott Fraser studies how humans remember crimes -- and bear witness to them. In this powerful talk, which focuses on a deadly shooting at sunset, he suggests that even close-up eyewitnesses to a crime can create "memories" they could not have seen. Why? Because the brain abhors a vacuum. Editor's note: In the original version of this talk, Scott Fraser misspoke about available footage of Two World Trade Center (Tower 2). The misstatement has been edited out for clarity.

    Sep 10, 2012 Read more
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    Baba Shiv: Sometimes it's good to give up the driver's seat

    Over the years, research has shown a counterintuitive fact about ...

    Over the years, research has shown a counterintuitive fact about human nature: That sometimes, having too much choice makes us less happy. This may even be true when it comes to medical treatment. Baba Shiv shares a fascinating study that measures why choice opens the door to doubt, and suggests that ceding control -- especially on life-or-death decisions -- may be the best thing for us. (Filmed at TEDxStanford.)

    Jul 18, 2012 Read more
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    Elyn Saks: A tale of mental illness -- from the inside

    "Is it okay if I totally trash your office?" It's ...

    "Is it okay if I totally trash your office?" It's a question Elyn Saks once asked her doctor, and it wasn't a joke. A legal scholar, in 2007 Saks came forward with her own story of schizophrenia, controlled by drugs and therapy but ever-present. In this powerful talk, she asks us to see people with mental illness clearly, honestly and compassionately.

    Jun 29, 2012 Read more
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    Ami Klin: A new way to diagnose autism

    Early diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder can improve the lives ...

    Early diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder can improve the lives of everyone affected, but the complex network of causes make it incredibly difficult to predict. At TEDxPeachtree, Ami Klin describes a new early detection method that uses eye-tracking technologies to gauge babies' social engagement skills and reliably measure their risk of developing autism. (Filmed at TEDxPeachTree.)

    Jun 9, 2012 Read more
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    Tali Sharot: The optimism bias

    Are we born to be optimistic, rather than realistic? Tali ...

    Are we born to be optimistic, rather than realistic? Tali Sharot shares new research that suggests our brains are wired to look on the bright side -- and how that can be both dangerous and beneficial.

    May 14, 2012 Read more
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    Joshua Foer: Feats of memory anyone can do

    There are people who can quickly memorize lists of thousands ...

    There are people who can quickly memorize lists of thousands of numbers, the order of all the cards in a deck (or ten!), and much more. Science writer Joshua Foer describes the technique -- called the memory palace -- and shows off its most remarkable feature: anyone can learn how to use it, including him.

    May 10, 2012 Read more
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    Rory Sutherland: Perspective is everything

    The circumstances of our lives may matter less than how ...

    The circumstances of our lives may matter less than how we see them, says Rory Sutherland. At TEDxAthens, he makes a compelling case for how reframing is the key to happiness. (Filmed at TEDxAthens.)

    May 4, 2012 Read more
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    Laura Carstensen: Older people are happier

    In the 20th century we added an unprecedented number of ...

    In the 20th century we added an unprecedented number of years to our lifespans, but is the quality of life as good? Surprisingly, yes! At TEDxWomen psychologist Laura Carstensen shows research that demonstrates that as people get older they become happier, more content, and have a more positive outlook on the world. (Filmed at TEDxWomen.)

    Apr 19, 2012 Read more
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    Frans de Waal: Moral behavior in animals

    What happens when two monkeys are paid unequally? Fairness, reciprocity, ...

    What happens when two monkeys are paid unequally? Fairness, reciprocity, empathy, cooperation -- caring about the well-being of others seems like a very human trait. But Frans de Waal shares some surprising videos of behavioral tests, on primates and other mammals, that show how many of these moral traits all of us share.

    Apr 10, 2012 Read more
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    Susan Cain: The power of introverts

    In a culture where being social and outgoing are prized ...

    In a culture where being social and outgoing are prized above all else, it can be difficult, even shameful, to be an introvert. But, as Susan Cain argues in this passionate talk, introverts bring extraordinary talents and abilities to the world, and should be encouraged and celebrated.

    Mar 2, 2012 Read more
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