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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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    Pamela Meyer: How to spot a liar

    On any given day we're lied to from 10 to ...

    On any given day we're lied to from 10 to 200 times, and the clues to detect those lie can be subtle and counter-intuitive. Pamela Meyer, author of Liespotting, shows the manners and "hotspots" used by those trained to recognize deception -- and she argues honesty is a value worth preserving.

    Oct 13, 2011 Read more
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    Dan Ariely: Beware conflicts of interest

    In this short talk, psychologist Dan Ariely tells two personal ...

    In this short talk, psychologist Dan Ariely tells two personal stories that explore scientific conflict of interest: How the pursuit of knowledge and insight can be affected, consciously or not, by shortsighted personal goals. When we're thinking about the big questions, he reminds us, let's be aware of our all-too-human brains.

    Aug 29, 2011 Read more
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    Julian Treasure: 5 ways to listen better

    In our louder and louder world, says sound expert Julian ...

    In our louder and louder world, says sound expert Julian Treasure, "We are losing our listening." In this short, fascinating talk, Treasure shares five ways to re-tune your ears for conscious listening -- to other people and the world around you.

    Jul 29, 2011 Read more
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    Paul Bloom: The origins of pleasure

    Why do we like an original painting better than a ...

    Why do we like an original painting better than a forgery? Psychologist Paul Bloom argues that human beings are essentialists -- that our beliefs about the history of an object change how we experience it, not simply as an illusion, but as a deep feature of what pleasure (and pain) is.

    Jul 27, 2011 Read more
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    Simon Lewis: Don't take consciousness for granted

    After a catastrophic car accident that left him in a ...

    After a catastrophic car accident that left him in a coma, Simon Lewis found ways to recover -- physically and mentally -- beyond all expectations. At the INK Conference he tells how this remarkable story led him to concern over all threats to consciousness, and how to overcome them.

    Jul 7, 2011 Read more
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    Daniel Tammet: Different ways of knowing

    Daniel Tammet has linguistic, numerical and visual synesthesia -- meaning ...

    Daniel Tammet has linguistic, numerical and visual synesthesia -- meaning that his perception of words, numbers and colors are woven together into a new way of perceiving and understanding the world. The author of "Born on a Blue Day," Tammet shares his art and his passion for languages in this glimpse into his beautiful mind.

    Jun 21, 2011 Read more
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    Elliot Krane: The mystery of chronic pain

    We think of pain as a symptom, but there are ...

    We think of pain as a symptom, but there are cases where the nervous system develops feedback loops and pain becomes a terrifying disease in itself. Starting with the story of a girl whose sprained wrist turned into a nightmare, Elliot Krane talks about the complex mystery of chronic pain, and reviews the facts we're just learning about how it works and how to treat it.

    May 18, 2011 Read more
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    Ed Boyden: A light switch for neurons

    Ed Boyden shows how, by inserting genes for light-sensitive proteins ...

    Ed Boyden shows how, by inserting genes for light-sensitive proteins into brain cells, he can selectively activate or de-activate specific neurons with fiber-optic implants. With this unprecedented level of control, he's managed to cure mice of analogs of PTSD and certain forms of blindness. On the horizon: neural prosthetics. Session host Juan Enriquez leads a brief post-talk Q&A;.

    May 15, 2011 Read more
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    Ron Gutman: The hidden power of smiling

    Ron Gutman reviews a raft of studies about smiling, and ...

    Ron Gutman reviews a raft of studies about smiling, and reveals some surprising results. Did you know your smile can be a predictor of how long you'll live -- and that a simple smile has a measurable effect on your overall well-being? Prepare to flex a few facial muscles as you learn more about this evolutionarily contagious behavior.

    May 11, 2011 Read more
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    Kathryn Schulz: On being wrong

    Most of us will do anything to avoid being wrong. ...

    Most of us will do anything to avoid being wrong. But what if we're wrong about that? "Wrongologist" Kathryn Schulz makes a compelling case for not just admitting but embracing our fallibility.

    Apr 19, 2011 Read more
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