Big Brains at BAM | StarTalk Live! with Neil deGrasse Tyson | Full Episode

– Welcome to StarTalk here at Bam. (cheering) Yes, it is now my incredibly
great pleasure to bring on, your host, a wonderful man, a hero to science. Ladies and gentlemen, Neil Degrasse Tyson. (cheering) As promised. (laughing) There’s Neil. I will now bring on our
two comedic guests tonight. Ladies and gentlemen Michael Ian Black. (cheering) – Hello. Thank you Gene. – Hello Michael. And the always delightful, Paul Rudd. (cheering) (laughing) Welcome Paul. – Just to remind you– – So handsome. (laughing) – Remind you of what StarTalk is, it is a, (laughing)
– Paul Rudd fuck fest. – Whoo!
(laughing) – [Eugene] Set that wrong. – We like to have fun with science. And we always have comedic
co-hosts and we go live. We have more than one. And now for our, science, this is the science
side of the house right here. (laughing) – Sorry. – First let me introduce, this is her second time, as a guest on StarTalk Live. She’s a professor of
cognitive neuroscience at Columbia Presbyterian. Heather Berlin, come on Heather. (cheering) (clapping) I stumbled, not ’cause I
didn’t remember her name, but in fact it’s Mount
Cyanide Medical Center, not Columbia so, my apologies there. It’s your second time, thank you. This is a neuroscience show. We have one more guest. And she’s, I’m a big fan of hers in many ways. You’ve seen her on
television, know of her. Please welcome, warm Brooklyn welcome, to Mayim Bialik from The Big Band Theory. (cheering)
(clapping) – This is a hell of a lineup. (laughing) I’m just saying what they’re thinking. – Yeah, yeah, yeah. So we’re gonna talk about the brain, the whole next 90 minutes, three segments, we’re gonna talk about the brain. And you’re here because Mayim, you have a PhD in Neuroscience. You don’t only portray
one who does on T.V. You actually have one, right. – Yes I’m a doctor and I play one on T.V. (laughing)
– You do both. You do both. And so, you also have a new
book that just came out, on being a vegan. – Correct. (cheering) – We have 12 vegans in the audience. – Hey we’re in Brooklyn. There’s plenty. (laughing) – And I try to say, how do like, how weed veganism into StarTalk. And, (laughing) – By just discussing it. (laughing) – So and I noticed, that the United States actually has plans, unfunded though they are plans to, go to Mars by 2030. And if you’re on Mars, there are not gonna be
bringing cows with them. – You just found the perfect way, to incorporate it into this evening. (laughing) – And so in fact, they’re
developing vegan recipes, to go to Mars. Because the first colonists there, they want to be able to
eat sort of efficiently, as it were. – Not damage the environment of Mars. (laughing) – But don’t we need to damage
the environment of Mars, to make Mars habitable. (laughing) Isn’t that the entire point. – Mars is just one cow away from being a place people could live. (laughing) – Wait, wait and so it’s an interesting, what does damage mean? If you change what it is, that’s damaging it technically. If you turn Mars into Earth, you totally messed with it right? So I don’t know if that’s a
good thing or a bad thing. – But was Mars actually
like Earth at one point? – We don’t know, but we have evidence that
it had running water. – Right. – So something bad
happened on Mars long ago. And so, – George Bush. (laughing) It’s just a theory. (laughing) – So are you a candidate for NASA to, retain as an advisor in this capacity? – No.
(laughing) – Why, you just wrote a book on veganism. – No I wrote a book on the vegan things, that I feed non vegans that they enjoyed. It has nothing to do with Mars, or space. I should be on that side of the room, to talk about it. Not this side. – Okay so it’s tasty vegan food, for the skeptic I guess. – Sure, I mean, I write for a website called Kveller. And I would often write about, recipes that I had made vegan, just kind of in passing. And people wanted me to publish them. I’m not like a fancy celebrity chef. I never look like this. I usually am in sweats and an apron, in my kitchen. So I wasn’t looking to be a
celebrity chef and say like, this is how you should eat. It will make your family perfect. But what I know is what, I’ve sort of cooked my whole life, and things that I’ve made
vegan that taste good. This still has nothing to do with science. But I’ll be done talking soon. (laughing) – Well it does have to do with it, because being a vegan means you’re eating, efficiently given the ecosystem. That matters. – Right. So one of the reasons that some people, do choose to eat vegan, is out of sort of deference to the planet, and environmental concerns. It shouldn’t cost more to store food, than it does to actually
give it to people. And sometimes that happens. – Yeah and so I’m just saying, if you make food that non
vegan people are happy with, that makes you a really valuable person. – Why thank you. (laughing) Am I the most valuable person? – I don’t know. I just wanted to call
that to your attention. Because NASA has an advanced technology, advanced food technology project. – Should I be holding this like you are? – Oh no you don’t have to. – Everyone’s holding one but me. Okay I’ll hold it. – Speaking of someone
with a perfect family, I have a question about veganism. (laughing) Is apple wood bacon, is that vegan? (laughing) – It’s got the word apple in it. It must be healthy. – Okay good. – I was just thinking of your book, Pesto Pasta for Martians. – Yes. (laughing) – That was what you were working on right. (laughing) I really think that you should
jump in on this conversation. (laughing) – So if you go to Mars, it takes six to nine months to get there, and then you have to wait for, the planets to realign. – By then you can digest
the meat you ate last night. (laughing) Sorry. (laughing) Sorry. (laughing) – I just want to point out, that most people are more omnivores, and don’t just. Like nobody just, anyway go on. (laughing) – So no, you’re there. It takes that long to get there, and then you’re there for
the planets to align again. That’s another year and
half, two years or so. So it’s a three, four year, round trip to do this. So, I mean people are thinking
serious and hard about this. And until Mars becomes terraformed, you’re gonna have to sort
of make do with plants, and what Paul? – I, okay. I read this article– – Nothing good ever begins that way. (laughing)
– I swear to God. (laughing) – Except I read this, article on the internet.
– There’s a very, sketchy magazine. I’ll throw it out there. – Which magazine? – Life.
– We. – Oh We. (laughing) We which is French for life. (laughing) and it was all about, and this was, God I want to say, it was about 20 years ago, about the terra formation of Mars. And they talked about, churning oxygen out of the rocks, creating some kind of, – Atmosphere. – Like an at, well. (laughing)
Containment atmosphere. – Atmosphere. (laughing) – Let’s call it an air shield. – An air shield. That’s what I’m thinking. Like an ozone, yeah yeah. That they would descend above the planet, would trap in the air, and we would have these
kind of habit trails, green house, where we would grow food. They would populate Mars with about, 50 or so people. And over time, it would turn into judgment city, where it’s 73 degrees
and sunny all the time. – And then you could have your
cows that you were missing. – Yes so you would eventually, you would have cows. – Cause a cow is a machine to convert– – You’d have to have like
10 for every person though, cause that makes sense. (laughing) – No a cow is a machine to turn, leaves into steak right. (laughing) – In theory, maybe. I don’t know. – That’s what that is. What else is a cow? – It’s what it was made for, apparently. (laughing) – I guess really the only point. I just wanted everyone to know, that I read Life magazine. (laughing) – Yeah ’cause you certainly
didn’t have a question, at the end of that. – No, no. There was no, in fact I was kind of, I was talking about it, not really knowing where
I was gonna go with it. – You used a lot of big words though. – Terra formation guys. I don’t know just check it out. – And atmosphere. – Google it.
– Descend. – So good luck with the book. – Thank you.
– and a book tour now. – Thank you yes. – We’re grateful to the book tour, that you were even available
to us here in New York. – No it’s true, I’m actually, I’m going
on Howard Stern tomorrow, but I did the Today Show and Rachel Ray, and all sorts of places that
people talk about cooking. – Excellent. So good, good. – Thank you. – So now another thing
we may know you for, is as Amy Farrah Fowler, on the Big Bang Theory. (cheering) Now I actually had a
cameo on Big Bang Theory, I think it was before you, may have been before you
became a regular character. – Yeah I was brought on the
season finale of season three. And then I was made a regular, along with Melissa Rauch, who plays Bernadette, about midway through season four. – Okay great to have
you as a regular there. – Thank you. Thank you. – I’m a fan of the show. And it’s a show, if you’re not familiar
with the Big Bang Theory, it’s the number one sitcom on television. But, otherwise, if you’re not
a T.V. watching community, it’s a caricature of sort, geeks in their lives. And they’re professors at
I guess that’s Cal Tech. – It’s a group of
physicists and one engineer, with only a Masters, which he’s always teased about yes. – Yeah and so, it’s a lot of caricature going on there. And it’s been criticized for being, for it’s stereotypes and I’m thinking, it’s a T.V. show. Just let it do what it has to do. You play a I don’t want to, a sexually frustrated. (laughing) – Like every woman in science. (laughing) – Not every woman. (laughing) (clapping) – You preach sister. – Just to clarify.
– Touche. (laughing) – You talk girl. – Touche. (laughing) – So it’s just, what’s interesting to me is, they each have some kind
of psychological issues. I think you’re love interest, who is Sheldon. I think he comes closest to
what anyone might describe, as having Asperger or some other kind of, non social behavior. – Right so he, so all of our characters are, in theory, on the neuropsychiatric
spectrum, I would say. Sheldon often gets talked about, in terms of Asperger or OCD. He has a thing with germs. He has a thing with numbers. He’s got a lot of sort of
that precision that we see, in OCD. And there’s a lot of interesting features, to all of our characters, that make them technically
unconventional socially. And I think what’s
interesting and kind of sweet, and I think should not be lost on people, is that we don’t
pathologize our characters. We don’t talk about medicating them, or even really changing them. And I think that’s what’s interesting for, those of us who are
unconventional people or, who know and love people who
are on any sort of spectrum, we often find ways to work around that. It doesn’t always need to be solved, and medicated and labeled. And what we’re trying to
show with our show is that, this is a group of people who, likely were teased, mocked,
told that they will never be, appreciated or loved. And we have a group of people who have, careers, successful careers, active social lives that involve, things like Dungeons and
Dragons and video games. But they also have relationships. And that’s a fulfilling
and satisfying life. And I think that’s what we
really try and show on our show. – I never thought to, yes yes. (cheering)
(clapping) Heather, there does seem to
be this trend in society, that if someone is some, finds themselves on some extreme, of some behavior spectrum, that you have to put
em back in the middle, like everybody else. And is that a good, that
can’t be a good thing, right? – Can I tell you what, we in the Church of
Scientology believe about this? (laughing) – Well, I think there’s a movement
in psychiatry now. So while I think labeling is important, in certain respects because
it can help clinicians, talk about people in a certain way, it can help with treatment. But there are other
negative aspects to it. People can get, labeled with something, and it sticks with them for life. And the whole– – Like psychopath. (laughing) Not easy to get around. (laughing) – It’s hard to shake that label, yeah. – You try and you try. (laughing) – Difficult to treat psychopaths, ’cause they don’t present. I mean the whole. (laughing) – ‘Cause they don’t go, like psychopath. (laughing) – Like, I’m a psychopath. No so, people normally come for treatment, when they’re feeling distressed. And there are a lot of people, who are labeled with a disorder, who can get on perfectly fine, who don’t necessarily need treatment. And even now– – That is not a disorder. It’s just an order. – Yeah it just has to do
with the amount of distress, it’s causing to the person. And now I think, the new DSM, which is the
Diagnostic Statistical Manual, that we use to diagnose, different psychiatric disorders, has now actually taken away, the label Asperger. And now, things like autism or pervasive, development disorder, or Asperger, are all put under this name of, autism spectrum disorders. – Well and also Thomas
Insula is trying to do away, with the structure of the DSM, four or five as we know it, to say more that we are
all along the lines of, many spectrums, right. – So yeah, so the way that, so Tom Insula is the head of the NIH, the National Institute of Health. And the way psychiatric
diagnosis is going, and the way that I apply for grants, let’s say to do research, is that instead of saying, I’m gonna study a disorder, because a lot of people with different, psychiatric problems, can be labeled as one disorder, we’re now gonna look at these
different dimensions and say, okay is this person having problems, like emotional instability, or impulsivity. And try to find the neural basis
of those particular traits, and treat that rather than the disorder. – And never think of it as a disorder. This is good. So, the Big Bang Theory is
leading the way in this. – We are at the forefront. – Oh yes. (laughing) – It’s an interesting discussion. I know I sometimes suffer from depression. And when I get stressed out, I just burn down a building now, instead of taking my pills. (laughing) That works great for me. – Did you learn that
from the Big Bang Theory? (laughing) – No. (laughing) I learned it from burning down buildings. (laughing) – So Mayim, do they have
neuroscience advisor on the show? I met the physics advisor there. – Dr. Saltzberg, yeah,
David Saltzberg from, UCLA, a very fine university. – Right. Where you got your PhD. – And my undergrad degree as well. Yeah we have a physics consultant who, he also has a vast knowledge
of general science, as those of us who are
trained in science tend to. We have a smattering of this and that. – So use him for even the neuro stuff. – Sometimes I am used. – Oh yeah. (laughing) – I mean we have a really
exceptionally intelligent, interesting group of writers. Many of whom have science backgrounds. But yes, sometimes I
get strange emails like, what part of the brain
needs to be not working, for us to have this happen. Or, what should Amy be doing in her lab? Or we had a couple scenes in
the episode we just filmed, where I needed to have
three different activities, that I’m doing in my lab. And Amy’s lab is not a
perfect neuroscience lab, or neurobiology lab. So I tried to at least make things look, authentic for what we’re doing. It’s not always perfect. I get a lot of interesting comments. Why would she be doing research, in social affect in capuchins, if she’s also counting spores. – I had that question. (laughing) (talking at once) I watched that episode and I was like, that’s bullshit. (laughing) Social affect in capuchin monkeys. Give me a break. – You don’t need me to confer on this but, the white boards that had equations, on the episode that I appear in, – Racist. (laughing) – They used to be black boards. What happened? (laughing) So it had equations drawn from, my research. And then the guy asked me, he said, “Did you recognize something on the set?” (laughing) – It’s a nerd fest over there. It’s a nerd fest. – And it turns out, he got equations from another Tyson, doing research in astrophysics, not from me. (laughing) So, but that’s okay.
– Was it the male model, Tyson gay? (laughing) ‘Cause he’s wonderful. A reference nobody got. (laughing) – So is there a, in your own life experience, or in the show, tell me about women in science. How is that treated and thought about? – Gosh I mean lots of different
ways in my personal brain. But in terms of sort of, presenting or representing
a female scientist, there were no other neuroscientists, at my audition, you know when I auditioned
to play Amy Farrah Fowler. It was a group of very talented actresses. But you know as actors, we are paid to play, whatever’s on the page. We don’t have to really
be that in real life. So that was really just
sort of an accident. I feel very lucky that I had that. – I was so disappointed when I learned, Raj was not an actual astrophysicist. – Yeah no. – He was an actor. – Yeah we’re all actors. No but I think when people, especially criticize or say, it’s such a stereotype. I know people like all those characters. I promise, I hang out with them sometimes. No I know women like Amy Farrah Fowler. I was asked to do, a female Jim Parson’s impression, was literally the audition. I had never seen Big Bang Theory. And I was told, they are looking for a female Jim Parsons. I said that’s great, whose Jim Parsons. And I Google Jim the night before, and I saw about 10 seconds
of him doing his Sheldon bit. And I thought, I can do that. I know tons of people like that. So yeah, so I didn’t have to present, as a scientist per say that way. But Amy is based on, a few female professors in particular. And a few male professors as well. – Out of your own life, that you’ve assembled. – Yeah I mean I spent
12 years in academia. I’ve met a lot of interesting people, in neuroscience. So yeah she’s based on a lot of, real qualities and real things that exist. And there’s all sorts of
men and women in science. And there were professors
in my department, who looked like models,
both male and female. And there were those that looked, like the characters on Big Bang. The fact that we present Amy as sort of, frumpy, they dress me
a couple sizes too big, and very kind of low
on the aesthetic level, that’s not a statement
that women scientists, can’t be attractive. That’s a very specific thing that, our writers wanted to craft, for the Sheldon, Amy relationship. But the Bernadette character
is a microbiologist. And she gets to wear false lashes, and she wears, fancier clothes than I do. But I love that I get to, go to work and put on slouchy clothes. I don’t have to wear Spanx. I don’t have to spend
long on hair and makeup. It’s very comfortable, to be that kind of person and scientist. – I wonder is there any, correlation between
extreme science talent, and absence of social graces. Heather is there any research. The reason why I ask it, ’cause that’s the stereotype. It’s been with us forever. And it’s exploited on the Big Bang Theory. – Name one stereotype that’s not true. (laughing) Fine name two. – Well I mean, so people in academia, there is a stereotype. And the reason for the stereotype, is there are a lot of people, particularly in the
sciences and engineering, that think very, you have to think very methodically. And the types of personalities, the types of dedication it takes, to be an academic is, in essentially you have
to be a bit asocial. So I think it attracts people, who tend to be a bit asocial, think very rigidly. You need to be a bit obsessive compulsive, about whatever it is, that you’re studying. – But is it that it
attracts asocial people, or that the field does
not reject asocial people, the way so many other fields would. – Well it could be a little– – Yes, Neil that’s what it is. (laughing) – Well, there’s one false correl … One thing that people think is that, that necessitates that high intelligence, necessitates these
personality characteristics. And that’s not particularly true. There’s not a higher, high corelation between high intelligence, and say Asperger. So I think it’s more that it
attracts people to the field, rather than it’s correlated
per say with high intelligence. – So, okay. And of course in the Big Bang Theory, everyone there is like wicked smart right. (laughing) That’s everybody. (laughing) – Well it’s a bunch of
professors at Cal Tech. I don’t know.
– There you go. – Those are smart people. – I just skipped over a note here. I want to go back to it. After you got your PhD, you were a school teacher. I taught, I designed a curriculum for neuroscience. I taught in the homeschool
community in Los Angeles, for junior high and high school. I did basic neuroscience. I designed a course on, technological advances in neuroscience. I also taught high school biology, in the home school community. – It’s so crazy to me, ’cause our resumes are almost identical. (laughing) – Yeah I had my– – Wait. My question. What does it mean to homeschool, as a teacher that isn’t, you know what I’m saying. – That you don’t live there. – How do you homeschool– – Is there a, yeah exactly. Is there a community of homeschool people, that all meet up to have
their own secret school. – Yes. Well so often, often for higher level classes, like junior high and high school science, a tutor or a teacher is hired, and you meet usually in a home. Sometimes people meet in
parks or community centers. – It’s a pack of kids there
who are all homeschooled. – Yeah I mean I taught
10 high school students, who were getting ready to
start taking community college. And yeah I was the person
on the Big Bang Theory, was their biology teacher. It was kind of freaky for them. (laughing) – Okay and you’re also involved, in a STEM initiative I’ve been reading. – Yeah I’m the spokesperson for– – Science, technology,
engineering, and math. – Magic.
– I’m the spokesperson, for Texas Instruments which is the– – Really? – Yeah I’ve been their spokesperson. This is my third year. So I’ve had a TI81, depends on how old you are, what TI version you had. (cheering) Yay there’s people my age. – That’s the Terminator
that comes back to kill, Arnold Schwarzenegger right? (laughing) He’s the scariest one of all. – That’s the TI82. (laughing) – What it the TI81, say we’re not, whatever the age you are.
– It’s the handheld, graphing calculators. So I got mine I think when I was 14. And that same graphing calculator took me, all the way through
junior high, high school, into college and grad school. But there’s a new one
called the TI Inspire, that now is in color, and you can download images. And you can create
parables from basketballs, images of basketballs being shot. It’s exciting. And so there’s also a bunch of physics. (laughing) There’s a bunch of physics
and chemistry stuff. – I had no parable machine. (laughing) But I had a notebook that was great, covered in bands I liked. (laughing) – Can you type in those letters, and then when you hold
it upside it says hello? – Yes! You can still do that. – You know it’s good then. You know it’s a good one. (laughing) – Yes. – In my day, there was the TI people, and then the HP people, who had reverse polish notation. – Uh huh. – And those were the cool kids. There’s still that debate going on, when I go to conferences, yeah. – I’m just saying. – In my community, it’s between
Twizzlers and Red Vines. (laughing) – You can spell boob in both. (laughing) – This is what they do with
the calculators we got. – I know. (laughing) So Mayim, there’s also, everyone has odd relationships
with their parents. Yet your, I mean in the show. – Oh. (laughing) – I was like wow. (laughing) – Your character, we don’t know your, will your family come into it? – There was one episode, with, the reason I’m laughing, it’ll be funny in a second. There was an episode where Amy
wants to convince her mother, that she’s dating someone. This is before she and
Sheldon were dating. So she asks him to pretend
like he’s her boyfriend, and they Skype with her mom. So there was a mom scene. And he says to her, ’cause he’s trying to convince Amy’s mom, that they’re dating. I just made love to
your daughter’s vagina. (laughing) and that was the end of the Skype call. (laughing) Sorry. Is that okay to say? (laughing) – It’s okay to say. – I didn’t write it. – [Eugene] I don’t get it. (laughing) I’ll tell you later. – If you can say it on CBS. (laughing) – Well on the subject of sex, in the Big Bang Theory, there’s a lot of, sexual tension everywhere. (laughing) – In restaurants, in butts. (laughing) – You have some, so Mayim, – Yes I’m listening. – You have this sort of, dual attraction to Sheldon and to Penny. – Amy is bi-curious. – Bi-curious. There’s a word for that, okay. – We’re in Brooklyn. Of course there is. (laughing) – It’s bi-curious. And it’s charming to watch that. – Yeah there was a lot, in season four, there was a lot of the, understanding that for some people, and Amy was one of them, who arrive late to social
interactions like that, and especially sort of sexual feelings, and feelings of intimacy, there’s an appreciation
of all kinds of beauty. And obviously Sheldon is
very attractive to Amy, for a lot of reasons but, Penny is as well. – And there’s also Raj, I think there’s a, he’s bi- interested, what was the word? – Bi-curious. – Bi-curious yeah. – Are you learning about
bi-curious right now? – [Neil] Yeah, yeah. – That makes me very happy. (laughing) – Yes Raj and Howard, have a very special relationship. – Somebody doesn’t go on Craigslist. (laughing) – Well to take us out
of this first segment. (laughing) There’s an episode, the Gothowitz Deviation
I think it was called, where there’s a discussion, about modifying people’s behavior. And Sheldon modifies Penny’s behavior, by offering her chocolate. And she changes her behavior
like instantly essentially, for this. And that brings up the question, do you modify behavior by training people, to learn how to behave? Or do you just reward good behavior, and punish bad behavior? – Depends the behavior. I’ll let you take it. – Where are we on that? B.F. Skinner was famous for– – Well B.F. Skinner’s idea was, he took it to very far
extreme, behaviorists. They all thought that we’re all– – And he did this with his kids. – He might have yeah. – And you have a new born I understand. – I do she’s three months old. – There months old.
– And I’m experimenting, with her as we speak. – Isn’t it fun to be
a scientist with kids? – Oh it’s amazing. I like put her in front of the mirror, do you recognize yourself yet? (laughing) She’s gonna be messed up. (laughing) – Are these the children who write books, about their parents, when they get older.
– Exactly. My mom was the neuroscientist. She messed me up. – Yeah, yeah, yeah. – No, so his idea was that we’re born, sort of tabula rasa, blank slate. And you can make anybody into anything, just by training, by giving them rewards and punishers, and modifying their behavior accordingly. Well we know now is that, we’re born with certain
genetic predispositions, to behave in certain ways, and then within that sort of, within that range of, you can modify behavior within
a range that you’re given, biologically. So for even something like
intelligence for example, you can be born with a
genetic predisposition, to be within a certain IQ range. Then your environment can
push you sort of towards, the top end of the range, or maybe towards the
low end of that range. But you’ll never exceed. So it’s almost, as everyone says, it’s a combination of both. But there’s definitely a
lot of learning that occurs. And we knowing now, from mapping out the brain, and looking at the genome that, what seems to be most
affected by the environment, is the way the brain gets wired. So you’re born with certain
genetic predisposition, in terms of the structures of the brain. – We got that in another segment. But let me just ask you, is it, can you teach someone math faster, by giving them candy, than just by teaching them? I’m just wondering.
– Yeah, well actually yeah. – Or holding them underwater, and being like learn it. Learn it! And then raising, waterboarding I guess, I’m describing waterboarding. (laughing) A towel on the face, a little bottle of water, and some math. (laughing) – Well we know that people, sort of discount delays with reward. So if you give someone
a reward right away, they’ll put more emphasis, they’ll want that rather
than waiting for it later. – Well I think the issue
there is motivation, and not necessarily sort of a, skill set and a cognitive ability, or a technical ability. So the fact is yes, candy makes everything better, no matter what you’re trying to learn, because it’s a very strong motivator, and it’s a potent motivator. – It might not make you better at math, but it might make you study for longer, for example. – And well also, that’s a great example– – What would cocaine
do for my math skills? (laughing) – A kid can learn French
in a week on heroine. (laughing) Now that’s a reward. (laughing) – So okay, so a little of both might help, I guess. This is the gold star, that children get in elementary school. Right that’s the– – I mean it does work to a certain extent. As they said, it’ll
help motivate behavior, but it won’t sort of give you a skill set, that you don’t sort of have– – Well I think that also as parents, one of the early things we learn, when we’re talking about
how we discipline children, and water boarding joking aside, (laughing) threats and fear and punishment and pain, are very very strong motivators, to change behavior. The do you want to
condition a child with fear, is a much larger question, which is probably not funny at all, and I won’t go into it. – [Eugene] Whoops. (laughing) – There’s positive reinforcement
and negative reinforcement. There’s also taking away of a positive, which can be another way
to help somebody learn. So there’s a whole variety of
ways you can model behavior. – I thought of taking away, so someone lives with a positive, you threaten to take that away. – Like a finger. (laughing) Don’t tell me it’s not a positive. (laughing) I don’t have a child, so it’s fine that I’m saying all of this. (laughing) – I have two children and it’s
fine that you’re saying this. (laughing) – One last question
before we take our first, by the way our breaks are short, they’re just to regroup here. So on several episodes– – It’s gonna get crazy
in about 30 seconds. (laughing) – On the shows you have live, rhesus monkeys or something. Are there projected in, or are they really on the set? I’m just curious. – They’re fantasy monkeys
that you have to imagine, and it appears on every screen. Yeah we have real capuchin monkeys. – Wow. – I’m a vegan, you shouldn’t
ask me too much about that. (laughing) Acting monkeys. That’s what I am, I’m just an acting monkey. (laughing) – On Ed you had real Reese’s Pieces right, at the crafts service table? I remember you talking about that. – Did they ever try to grab you? – When we come back on StarTalk Radio, more from, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, StarTalk Radio, give it up for our panel. (cheering)
(clapping) – Thank you. – I want to thank you all for coming. We’ve got two more segments. Each is about a half hour, and then we’re gonna open
the floor to questions. We have a microphone in aisle, ’cause that’s how we roll. And, can I get the house
lights up just briefly. There’s someone in the audience
I just want to introduce, to you all. There’s a– (cheering) (laughing) (cheering) Bill Nye! (cheering) – [Mayim] He follows me everywhere. ♪ Bill, Bill, Bill, Bill ♪ ♪ Bill Nye the Science Guy ♪ (upbeat music) – [Voiceover] Science rules. (upbeat music) ♪ Bill Nye the Science Guy ♪ – [Voiceover] Inertia
is a property of matter. ♪ Bill, Bill, Bill, Bill, Bill ♪ ♪ Bill Nye the Science Guy. ♪ – Can we get a seat here. I’m gonna put Bill on the panel. Why not? (cheering)
– He should probably, he should go between science and comedy. – Right here, there you go. How you doin Bill? – Fabulously.
– You happened to be, in town. Thanks for showing up. – Oh sorry, let me. – He’s following me. We just did Bill Maher together. – I’m great Neil, thanks. – Yeah there you go. Bill Nye the Science Guy. (cheering) – I think you–
– Thank you. – Now Bill, you’re not actually the person
I was first gonna introduce. (laughing) Can we bring the lights
back up again please? (laughing) So we have in the audience– (laughing) – President Barack Obama. (laughing) – No he doesn’t know
he’s being introduced. He didn’t know this but, well Phil Larson, please stand up where are you? – Phil, Phil. – Where are you? There he goes. Phil Larson everyone is, (clapping)
(laughing) you don’t know who he is yet. Hold your applause until
you find out who he is. He’s, (laughing) – The first person to ever eat a baby. (laughing) (talking at once) – Phil Larson comes to us
from the president’s office, of Science and Technology Policy. So he’s representing The White House here, at this StarTalk. (cheering)
Thank you. Thanks Phil for coming. Alright. Okay the lights can come down, and we will begin the second segment. Are you ready? Okay. We are back. StarTalk Radio Live at Bam! (cheering) (clapping) And Bill thanks for joining us. – Oh no it is I who must thank you. No, no. (laughing) – So, we want to take this, deeper into the brain. We are all neuroscience today. What is, Heather, what is consciousness? (laughing) – We’re gonna start easy
and then build it up. – Yeah, yeah, yeah, what is consciousness? – I mean that’s a great question. – And self awareness. – Don’t pull any punches. Just let us have it. (laughing) – You know what my biggest question is. – Yeah. – How come identical twins, don’t think they are each other? – That’s your biggest question. (laughing) – I mean why am I me and not you? And we can say,
– Are you high? – ’cause we’re different people. But if you have an identical twin, you’re the same person but you’re not. – Just by that much. – So what’s up with that? – First of all, what is consciousness? We can define consciousness
very simply as, first person subjective experience. So you only are aware that you have it. I don’t know what your
consciousness is like. I only know what it is from internally. So what is consciousness. First person experience. How is it tied to the brain? We’re still trying to figure that out. Now that’s different than self awareness. So you can be conscious, without being self aware. – Like in a coma, or asleep. – Um, yeah– – Like my old boss. (laughing) – There is– (laughing) – Bill I don’t think you ever had a boss. – Oh no I used to have a job. – Oh you did, okay. (laughing) – Well so for example babies. They can be conscious, meaning
you can have raw sensations, like seeing the color red, or feeling something soft, or smelling a rose, without being aware of oneself, or having sort meta cognation, like thoughts about other thoughts. Or I’m the one having these thoughts. – So if we’re gonna say another
animal is not conscious, but has, is not self aware,
but has consciousness, – Exactly. – The bee finds the flower and, nature goes on. – Or there are syndromes also
where we see that people, have an experience of being conscious, of experiencing things, in the environment, correct, without a notion of
concrete self awareness. – Yeah there’s certain
dissociative disorders, where people loose their sense of self, but they’re still conscious. So consciousness is very unique. You don’t need to have
necessarily memory for it, you don’t need to have self awareness. You don’t even need language. – Alec Baldwin in his New Yorker Essay. (laughing) Seems to be displaying this. Is that right Heather? – It’s an article you read. – Yes. (laughing) I read articles. (laughing) – You should check out
this one in Life magazine, I read about 20 years ago, about the terra formation of Mars. I’ll tell you about it later. This was great. – So you’re saying a baby
could hear Bruce Springsteen, but not know why it’s having so much fun. (laughing) – What about lucid dreaming? I mean does that? – Yeah, so I mean it’s just another form– (laughing) – There we go. No, no. You fill in the blank. – It’s another form of awareness. Your brain is in a different state. Its conscious, but it’s in a
different state of awareness. – What is lucid dreaming
as opposed to dreaming, and you think a lot about it? – Lucid dreaming is sort of when, some people are able to be in a dream, and know that they’re themselves dreaming, and the can sort of control their dreams. – Can I say been there, done that? – Oh yeah. Was it good? – Well, it was pretty good for me. (laughing) For me it was smokin.
– That’s awesome. (laughing) – Wait, wait, so a lucid dream, is a dream that you’re
self aware that you’re in? – Yeah. – I have these all the time where I will, I often, well I mean I
speak other languages. I speak Spanish and I speak Hebrew, and I will often have a dream where I’m– – Enough Mayim. (laughing) We get it. – Mayim, the PhD wasn’t enough apparently. – Anyway. Sometimes I will be trying
to consciously figure out, how to communicate something, in my non native tongue. I know that I’m having a dream, where I’m trying to communicate, and I’m literally computing, what to say and how to say it, and in which tense. But I’m very aware that this is going on. – So normally in a dream state, the part of the brain called
the prefrontal cortex, is sort of down regulated, sort of decreased in activation, so that you’re normally not
so aware of what’s going on. And these subcortical sort of, processes are allowed to come through, without being monitored. – The subcortical processes. (laughing) – There are subcortical
processes that are, – Processes. – The limbic system, the emotional part. – The Amygdala. – The Amygdala is part of it. – Hey! (laughing)
– This is the reptile brain. – The reptile brain, yeah. – The reptile brain. – I know the bit I know. (laughing) – And normally, so it’s very active in a dream state, this reptile brain, this limbic emotional brain. And the prefrontal cortex– – I have erectile brain. I’m familiar with that. (laughing) Is that what you said? – But in lucid dreams– – Reptile brain. – Oh! – One thing leads to another. – In lucid dreaming, you can be in a state, where you can actually engage, the prefrontal cortex a bit more, and have some self awareness, infuse this dream state. – So we see that on an MRI, while somebody’s asleep. Are we able to do that or, can you light it up while
someone’s unconscious? – So there are a lot of
studies, sleep studies, which usually don’t use MRI, ’cause you have to put them in a sort of– – Dunk, dunk, dunk. – That’s very loud. They can’t sleep, exactly. It makes a lot of noise. So their EEG studies, which look at different
sleep states and dreams. Yeah. – And so, with this, so you’re telling me
asleep you are conscious. In a coma, are you conscious? – So that’s a really interesting question. So there’s new studies now, that are showing there are
certain people who are in a coma, you can actually put them in a scanner, the one that makes all the loud noise, the FMRI, and you can say to them okay, we want you to imagine either, say walking through your house, or imagine playing a game of tennis. Now they can’t respond at all. And we know what a healthy
person’s brain would look like, if they’re imagining
walking through the house, or imagining playing tennis. And there’s been some cases of people, who we think they’re in a coma, and nothing’s getting through, but if you just simply
tell them to imagine this, their brain lights up in the
right corresponding ways. – So hence this story, I thought maybe it was just fiction, where you can read books
to a person in a coma, and they might still be. – Yeah and it’s not
every person in a coma. So I think they did this
with a whole group of people. – If you want to head your bets, read the book. (laughing) Read the book. – Yeah, just in case. But it was maybe like one out of 50, they found this person
really was having awareness. – Okay. – Do those people, are those people more likely
to emerge from the coma? – Yeah. So exactly. They now have something called the PCI, which I think is called the
Perdibation Complexity Index. But basically– – [Neil] Yeah that’s it. – Yeah that’s it. (laughing) What they did was they, so what you do is you actually, sort of zap a part of
the cortex with a magnet, trans cranial, – TMS.
– It’s TMS. Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation. Exactly. And you look at, if there’s a cacophony of
activation and response to that, almost if you hit a bell, and you hear it ring and it’s really loud, you know that there’s
a lot of connectivity. And those people are more
likely to come out of the coma, than if you just give them the TMS, and the activation only happens locally. And do those people ever have memories, of their time in the coma. – That varies, that varies. Some people– – And also this is a very
small N we’re dealing with. To run the stats on this kind of thing, you’d have to take so many
people who would qualify, for this kind of coma study. It’s a very small and I wouldn’t be, sort of making any frame. – No obviously, – Not you but, – Yeah yeah. – Other people.
– Please stop bickering. (laughing) – It’s a small N. That’s what you said, a small. (talking at once) – Let the record show, Mayim said small N, meaning small sample size. – It’s an integer. (laughing) It’s not gonna be a fraction. It’s not gonna be a rational. It’s gonna be an integer. – Let me get back to that. (laughing) – N, that’s a tradition in mathematics. (laughing) We are geeking out here. (laughing) – So in terms of the brain, we tend to think, well there was the tabula rasa, is it, you draw it up and then is
it ossified by adulthood. But people there were all these ideas, hypothesis running around. NASA did a study on neuroplasticity, your brain in space. Okay, told you I’d bring it back to space. (laughing) So they were checking in space, you are in zero G and so in zero G, your, (laughing) we have interpretive dance, for zero G. (laughing) Bill that did not happen, in the movie Gravity, people’s hair did not stand up on end. – Dude I’m so down. This is a radio show, so I took the hair and
pushed it up straight, as though they could have
done with a little hairspray, – [Both] in the movie Gravity. – [Neil] Yeah they didn’t do it. Didn’t do that. – I mean FCOL. For crying out loud. – Your sense of balance, which requires your body’s
awareness of gravity, a gravity vector. Other things, your vision, your sense of day and night, because in space, if you’re orbiting Earth, the sun rises and sets every 45 minutes. So this could totally mess, with your rhythms. And they did a study. And they found out that the brain has, plasticity to it, where in fact you will
completely adapt to those, to those change conditions. Not only that, the brain builds new brain cells, and in some cases, permanently responds to this environment. And so because of the permanence, of some of these plasticity, they’re suggesting that you should not, bring kids into space, ’cause they don’t know what
a permanent change in a kid, would be like as an adult. – What is it like in an adult? What happens in this? What is the– – You go crazy. (laughing) – What’s the result of
this neuroplasticity? – Well I know people have
their eyes change shape. Astronauts have had– – Like squares, they become a square. (laughing) – That sounds kind of cool.
– That thing’s for making the, when you have the hard boiled eggs, and you compress them in the refrigerator. – Which part of the eye? I need you to be more specific. Like the whole eye? – Guys who go into space, with fighter pilot eyes, come back and they don’t
have very good close up, or distance vision. They need glasses when
they get back permanently. – I’d be careful though when
you say permanent changes, because if you’re talking
about neuroplasticity, if it can change one way, it can also change back another way. But I think the reason why not to bring, developing brains into space or children, is because there’re critical
periods of development. And if they miss certain
stimuli during that, critical period, then there could be problems. – You’re talking about
circadian rhythms correct? – Among other things yeah. – Okay got it. So talking about our, I don’t want to say awareness, I mean it with a lower case a. Our awareness of day and night, you’re saying those things can reset, so you have a normal body period, that is shorter than what it is, if you are on Earth. – Not quite a 45, well it really disrupts your sleep cycle. – Sure. – And you don’t get as deep
a REM sleep in space as– – So all of that developmentally would be, really really a bad idea. – Not to mention like, my kids are a pain in the ass, on just like an hour and a half flight. (laughing) Could you imagine sending them to Mars? (laughing) – I take it you sort of can imagine. – You get like Jet Blue
or you at least get, some television something, back to the seat. (laughing) – So here’s what I wonder Heather. If there’s this neuroplasticity, where your body can adapt to stress, in the ways that were measured in space, why don’t we adapt more on Earth. Why do people stress out and
end up in mental hospitals? How much– – Wait those are two
very different questions. (laughing) – I thought he was gonna
ask working a night shift. Like isn’t it hard to work a night shift. – Exactly. – No, no, why are they
two different questions? If your brain can adapt, with all this plasticity, that the neuroscientist are boasting of, then why do we have people, just freaking out here on Earth? (laughing) – Well okay, they’re two separate things. – Tell me why. – So, people, so this is one thing. I went around and actually met people, who had extraordinary abilities, way outside the norm of
what we think is possible. Extraordinary memory and, a tolerance to pain. All these things. So– – You hosted a T.V. show on this. – There was a T.V., a
Discovery Channel show, called Super Human Showdown. And there were people who actually, we went around the world to find people, with these extraordinary abilities. One person could hold his breathe, under water for 22 minutes. And amazing. I saw it there. – And not be dead. – And not be dead.
(laughing) He could actually. (laughing) – Just checking. – Could he talk to fish, even just a little? (laughing) – But it’s amazing how far we
can actually push ourselves, our physiology and our brains. So I think a lot of what
people stress about, is they think they can’t adapt, but really we can adapt well beyond, what we think we’re capable of doing. Why people are in mental
institutions is another question. I think there are different, there’s a lot of different
reasons why people, go insane so to speak. But I don’t think it’s because
of lack of neuroplasticity. Does that make sense?
– I support that completely. – Okay as my fellow. – Yes. – Not even people who are super super sad. (laughing) – Is it because of heavy metal music? (laughing) – That beat, that beat. – As I was saying, you can modify the brain, within certain biological constraints. So if you’re born with a
certain predisposition, or I mean just structural
differences in the brain, you can only push it so far. But we can definitely go far
beyond what we think we can, where we can go. – So do you think, if we see someone else, who has ability, and they’re human then can we
also try to have that ability? – Again it’s within a certain, so these super human people who I met, they all practice a lot of hours, dedicate to. But they also had certain, like the guy who could hold
his breathe under water, had a greater lung capacity in general. He started out with that, and then he pushed it further and further. So I think we can all go further, within our particular frames. – There’s this book the sports gene, that talks about sort of the
exceptional athletic ability, that we don’t really think about, when we see Olympic athletes. They’re at a whole different
physiological level, than we even would think about. We would think oh, Michael Phelps is a great swimmer. No, his arms are really really long. His feet are practically webbed. His body is different than ours. (laughing) – He’s a monster. (laughing) – It’s weird. When you watch swimmers
at that high level, they go about twice as fast, as a normal person swimming. – I could swim all day. I’ll never look like that, because I was not born with
a genetic predisposition, to have really long arms, and webbed feet. (laughing) – I think you look great. Doesn’t she look great everybody. (laughing) That’s really what matters. I have a question, but on a more pedestrian level, talking about sports. You see certain populations, like people from the Dominican Republic, which is such a small country, but have a large proportion of people, entering the major leagues of baseball. Is it because they, they have peer groups– – This is such a dangerous question, we know you’re about to ask. It’s so dangerous.
– ‘Cause you’re gonna, change it to synagogue. – I was not going into racism, although I will if you want me to. (laughing) No it was about something
somebody else asked, about observing other people, in peer groups, ascending to higher levels, and therefore seeing first
hand what’s possible, does that make you more
susceptible to those possibilities? – I think that’s, I mean, you want it, or do you want me to take it? – You can go. You go for it. (laughing)
– You can take this. – I think to keep it simple, we’re gonna just keep it simple, and say that’s a huge sociological, environmental behavioral
sort of influence. But I don’t know. – I know, I’m writing
my dissertation on it. (laughing) – I’m sorry. Now it’s your turn. – Well I just think– – Well Heather, have they found a gene for baseball? That’s really what he’s asking. – You’re born with certain
genetic predispositions, towards maybe better athletic prowess. But it gets dangerous– – Different distribution of muscle fibers, for example in runners. – I think what the reason
people are getting sort of, the thing we’re dancing around, it can be very controversial. There was a book written, called, “The Bell Curve” for example, about intelligence. And it said okay you know, we did this whole study
and looked at populations, in X number of people from a
certain type of background, have the highest IQ and others don’t. It really can lead to– – Ashkenazi Jews. – Well it’s happened to be
Ashkenazi Jews, what it was. (laughing) – Who has the highest IQ. – [Heather] Yeah. – Yeah! (laughing) – Wait, wait me too. (laughing) – Let the record show, (laughing) let the record show Dr. T. I did what I could. I did what I could to slip
in a joke about synagogues. (laughing) And the major league baseball
players that they produce. – Is that where you were going with that? – That’s where I was going, because another factor as a baseball fan, another very strong
motivator in those countries, is this you can play baseball all year. And I was just in
Minneapolis this morning. It would be very challenging. That’s ’cause the snow is white, the ball is white. It’s hard. (laughing) And then you also have the–
– that was being racist. (laughing) – You also have this
extraordinary motivation of money. You can make it in the big leagues. And have you ever seen the
World Baseball Classic? – Yeah, yeah. It’s mostly Latin America. – Extraordinary players, just extraordinary players. But it’s one more click
to hit it that hard. – I’d like to change the topic, (laughing) to anything. – To ice hockey? – I want to know about sleep. – Let’s talk about eugenics for a minute. (laughing) – Why is it that people from Boston, are just so soft? (laughing) Their face is just a soft beautiful face. (laughing) – So Heather I want to talk about sleep, for a moment. Why the hell do we have to sleep? What a waste of time that is, I think to myself. – Did you just say why the
hell do we have to sleep? (laughing)
– Yes! – We could be literally
learning karate instead. (laughing)
– No, I’m just saying, (laughing) – Every time I sleep I’m like, I should be learning karate. – I’m reading, I’m learning, I’m having fun. I say damn, I got to go to sleep, be semi comatose for the next eight hours. If an alien came to Earth, and you’re having a great conversation. But then say, excuse me, I have to lay semi comatose
for the next eight hours. I’ll get back to you. They’ll wonder what’s wrong with you. (laughing) – Maybe they go down 16. You don’t know. – Oh I know, maybe. – Like a baby. – Why do we sleep? – The latest theory that we think, that most of the neuro
scientific evidence, is pointing towards, is the way the brain sort
of cleaning itself out. So during the day, you’re taking in all this stimulation, and it’s almost impossible
for your brain to, integrate all of it everyday. It would be cluttered. So at night what happens, is there’s sort of a pruning. It solidifies the information, that it wants to kind of keep, and reinforces– – Whether or not it’s accurate
or correct or anything. – Well yeah it depends. That’s psychopath. (laughing) – I just had an example. (laughing) – There’s sort of pruning that happens. And so without this cleaning out process, they looked at people when
you deprive them of sleep, and it causes all sorts of problems, including it can relate to
things like Alzheimer’s. Because the plagues and
tangles that form actually, that sleep is a kind of way that helps, clear out those plagues, well things that could potentially form, the proteins that conform those. – So you’re saying people
who don’t get as much as– – No, well no. – I knew you were gonna say that. – I’m just asking. – To be clear, she’s saying
people with Alzheimer’s, are simply extremely sleepy. (laughing) – What conclusion are we to draw? – If you’re sleepy, you’re
gonna get Alzheimer’s. (laughing) – That’s how science works. (laughing) – So remember, play baseball. (laughing) – It’s complicated. – Alright so? – Well like for memories for example, if you’re studying for an exam actually, you’ll do better if you
get a good night’s sleep. It’s not good to just cram
the whole night before, because the brain can then
solidify the associations, that were made, and get rid of the nonsense and the noise. – Alright so, but some people sleep five hours, others nine. Should the five hour
person be sleeping more, or the nine hour person be sleeping less? – That is hard to say. There’s no, I don’t think
there’s an exact number on it. I mean people, there’s a
lot of things out there, that say you should get X
number of hours of sleep. But really everybody’s different. Some people just don’t
need that much sleep. – I don’t get a lot of sleep. My feeling is if I’m, if in general we are
productive, functional, getting the things done
that we want to get done, there’s gonna be some
variability for sure. – Okay so also if you don’t get sleep, that’s like a form of torture right. Your brain goes crazy. – What happens is people
start to hallucinate yeah. They start to sort of, because again, the brain isn’t
able to properly prune out. And all the information
can get kind of jumbled. – Also if you disrupt REM sleep. – Exactly. – [Paul] But it is– – REM sleep is where
a lot of that happens. – It is an individual thing, because you have people like Edison or, Winston Churchill or these, high functioning people, who slept for four hours a night, or two hours a night. – There’s actually an extraordinary, a large number of people. Bill Clinton is another one, Margaret Thatcher, they would
only sleep very few hours, but then they would take these
power naps during the day. And there could be something to that. But they all said they at
least they take those little, mini naps. And that maybe the brain
can sort of revamp itself. – They also have a giant staff, and many assistants and chefs. (laughing) – Are you describing mini naps, or hooking up periodically
with people throughout the day? Both sound relaxing. (laughing) – Depends on the people. (laughing) – So what they found was that, the REM sleep was disrupted
by astronauts who, in orbit see sunrise,
sunset every 45 minutes. They couldn’t get their rhythms going. – They could just pull down
the shades couldn’t they. – I would’ve thought. I would’ve thought. – Those masks that cover your eyes. – Yeah I would’ve thought. You’d think. – Well it’s all coach
class, that’s the thing. (laughing) – It doesn’t come with a little thing. – Yeah they don’t give
you the little pouch. – You’re telling me they
flew the space shuttle, coach class, (laughing) and they didn’t get the little eye covers. – But studies show that
if you deprive people, particularly of REM sleep, that they have to make up for it later on, so that they’ll have
more hours of REM sleep, when you allow them to sleep later. – Okay so this is a feature
of our human species, not a failure of our design? – Yeah I mean if there was, if we could design it better, without sleep, that’d be great. But so far it’s the– – But it’s all species right? There’s no species that
does not need sleep. – I don’t know that. I don’t know. – Sea Jellies. Squid. – Algae. – Fish. – There are low metabolic
periods I would say, for all sorts of vertebrates
yes, I mean at least. – Yeah, yeah. – And no well,
– There’s always, a rest period. There’s a rest period, even if
it’s not what we call sleep. There is a rest period. – But from an evolutionary standpoint, one could ask, if it’s a big advantage
to need less sleep, would these people be more successful, become captains of industry, and get extraordinarily wealthy. – Well there must be something, well the answer is there must
be something advantageous, I.E. incorporating a tremendous amount, of input from the day, that can then help you make, different kinds of decisions, more complicated decisions correct? – Yeah.
– The next day. – Well I see, so the digested information, has more value to you, the day after, as it’s for your survival. – If that were
evolutionarily advantageous. That’s why it,
– I got that. That’s a good one.
– Would be retained. Thank you. – But there’s some animal, I think there’s maybe it’s dolphins, there’s some animals that, sleep with only half their brain. And the other half is alert. It’s dolphins. Part of them is aware for any sort of, let’s say predator is coming. – [Eugene] Samurai. (laughing) – The people who sleep
with their guns and swords. (laughing) – Samurai bears. (laughing) – And is it true lions
sleep 20 hours a day, or something like that. – I don’t– – Yeah is that true Heather? (laughing) – I don’t know everything
about everything. – You’re a cognitive neuroscientist. Do lions sleep 20 hours a day? (laughing) – They do. They sleep for 20 hours a day. – [Heather] Was that in Time magazine? – No I– – You went to the zoo with your kids. – No, I went on safari once. It’s true. And I remember learning that. (laughing) And by the way, the females do all of the hunting. And then the male lions just
go in and then eat first. Swat away the kids, then they go back to sleep. (laughing) – Yeah yeah it’s just sleep. – So they’re called, and if there’s a bunch of em, they’re called a pride. – Wow. (laughing) – A pride of lions. (laughing) – Murder of crows. – Boring of panelists. (laughing) – A smack of sea jellies. – So Mayim how much of– – That sound is disturbing to any, oh just to the nerds? – We can all hear it, so we’re all fine. (laughing) I believe it is feedback. – There is a high frequency
sound entered our ear pieces, moments ago. So Mayim how much sleep
do you get a night? – I actually, I’m like a
five or six hour person. – As am I, I’m like five
and half hours exactly. And I nap some on the weekend. But during the week it’s
five and half hours. – I take a Saturday, a Shabbat
nap for about 20 minutes. (laughing) I give my kids a cookie, and I say I will be a much better mother, if I can sleep for 20 minutes, on this couch with ear plugs in, I promise. (laughing) – And how old are your kids? – Five and half and eight. – Whoa, yeah. So presumably when they were much younger, you get no sleep. – Well, yeah, I mean
honestly it’s amazing to see, what it’s like with a newborn. I was a breastfeeding mom, and I was up literally every two hours, for about four or five years, literally every two hours. – Did you study yourself at that point? – I wrote my thesis while
breastfeeding my older one. I literally laying down
nursing and typing. I was data analysis and
writing and editing my thesis, with my first son. And yeah, it’s amazing to sleep again. – And she knows three languages. (laughing) – Totally impressed. (laughing) – Just get, so five and half, how many hours of sleep for you? – Now I have a three month old so, and I’m breastfeeding so it’s like– – This is her most
restful part of the day. – I’m sleeping right now actually. (laughing) – Half your brain. You’re a dolphin. She’s a dolphin. – Bill? – I need seven and half. Furthermore, I claim I’m
skilled at the power nap. I put in the hours. I put in the third of an
hours on the power nap. – [Neil] Power nap, Paul. – It really varies. I guess probably about six or seven. Although it seems now, I am falling asleep for
that 20 minute power nap. (laughing) I don’t mean right now, as we speak. At about lie 5:30, six o’clock at night, generally if I’m flipping around, and watching Pardon the Interruption, that I notice that I fall asleep a lot. Show on ESPN. (laughing) – Yeah. – About 14. (laughing) Right around 14 yeah. – Yeah like six to eight. – Yeah okay. – Is that weird? I always sleep five and
a half hours, I’m normal. (laughing) 6.4 hours. (laughing) I’d say five to eight with
a lot of afternoon naps. After I type out my weird things. (laughing) – While breastfeeding. – While breastfeeding. (laughing) – Not a human. – A dragon. (laughing) – I breastfeed a really cute dragon. (laughing) – Okay, oh by the way, when all this is over, the bar is open, and there’s a special
drink that we invented, just for this program. It’s called the Brain Freeze. (laughing) So you just got up there and
ask for the Brain Freeze. We invented it. The drink did not exist before tonight. And it has sort of the
color of your brain, brain matter. But it’s really tasty. – That does sound good. (laughing) – Mm hmm a gray drink. – Kahlua, milk, and nails. (laughing) – So check it out after the Q and A. So you ready to go back in. Okay. (cheering) – Let’s do this now. (clapping) – We’re back. StarTalk Live at Bam! (cheering)
(clapping) We are talking about the
science of the brain. And I want to know, what the future holds for us. I’ve got it written here, that we have 100,000
miles of nerve fibers, in each brain. That’s extraordinary. That’s a hell of a computer. But it still has issues. (chuckling) No I’m serious. There’s brain failure
in some people, right. I mean so, what is the hope, for really disentangling what all this is, and perhaps be able to fix people, who have problems. You just go in and snip a connection or, nip and tuck. What is the future of this? – Well I mean it’s a huge
problem actually to solve, to understand how the brain works. You’re talking about 100 billion neurons, with a quatrillion connections,
possible connections. So to understand the
workings of the human brain, is one of the greatest mysteries, and we’re all working
on that very very hard. But once we understand how it works, then just like a mechanic has to know, how the car works, so that when you bring
it in when it’s broken, they know how to go
about trying to fix it. So knowing the underline
structure is the beginning. – But is it that reductionist, not to get all philosophical
on you because, in physics, you can describe each molecule of air, careening off of another one, but that description doesn’t give you, the bulk properties of it. You need sort of to step back and say, this air has a temperature. The individual particle
doesn’t have a temperature. We have macroscopic
descriptions of things, that enable us to function. Because you can’t describe
every single little thing. Do you think the brain will, be intractable in that way? – So there’s, what you’re trying to say, is that if we understand
everything about the brain, but we understand the mind, or is that, that’s what
I think you’re saying. – [Neil] Yeah, yeah, yeah. – So that would mean that, some people think that
the mind or consciousness, is an emergent property of the brain. And there’s– – It just happens, is that what you mean? – Well the emergence out
of the workings of it. – Yeah you have, if you have enough circuits, you’re gonna get a mind. – You’re get this thing
called consciousness. There’s something called the
easy problem of consciousness, which isn’t that easy. But that is to say, if we can correlate every single thought, with the actual workings
of neurons in the brain, and let’s say we can map all that out, and we can do. We solve the easy problem. But there’s still gonna be a hard problem, of why is it that those neurons firing, and those neuron chemical slushing around, cause us to have these
subjective experiences. And we might not be able to, they call it the explanatory gap. We might not be able
to fully explain that. But I think we have to start somewhere. And just understanding the workings, of the basic system is
a good place to begin. – Can I ask a really, maybe dumb question, maybe not? Do we know that consciousness
exists in the brain? – I would venture to say yes. Because– – Well hold on, let me just follow up. ‘Cause I know that when you
take out like half your brain, you can still function right. You can take out the left hemisphere, and the right hemisphere will rewire. But then if you were to
cut that in half again, you only get a quarter of your brain. (laughing) Would you still have consciousness? And then at what point does
your consciousness disappear? – How many subjects have
you done this experiment on? (laughing) – So we do it everyday in the lab. – But seriously, what is the N on this? (laughing) – Yes, when does it move to your feet? (laughing) – I mean it’s a philosophical question. People say if you take little bits, and parts of the brain away, how much can you take away, how much of the brain
do you actually need, for conscious awareness? And some people claim that
you only need the brain stem. Well we know that that’s not true, because if you take a full adult, and you take away their cortex, or they have a damage to the cortex, their not gonna be conscious anymore. However there are children, who are born without a cortex, and they just have their brain stem, and they have some semblance, of what we might call consciousness. – Are these what we call
children of the damned? (laughing) – You can’t joke about anencephaly. You can’t joke about anencephaly. – I didn’t know there was a name for it. (laughing) – But seriously, (laughing) I’ll have conversations, with dogs.
– Sounded like they were fine. – Yeah. – I’ll have conversations with dogs. I can see dogs are dreaming. Dogs experience the joy of discovery. But is a dog paralyzed by self doubt? Actually, I think I’ve even seen that. (laughing) No a dog with especially, aggressively disciplining owner, seem to be paralyzed. Like I can’t cross this line, or the guy’s gonna hit me. And so, do we study, how far back do we go, from what is it, Rhesus, what’s the guy’s name? – Rhesus monkey? – But they have, it begins with a K? The monkeys? – More information. – In Amy Farrah Fowler’s lab. – Capuchin. – Oh Capuchin? It’s a C, not a K. (laughing) – Duh. – Historical science is real! (laughing) – Oh wow. Petersburg reference. So the Commonwealth of Kentucky. So, how far down do we go. Then there’s a cat. Then I’ve spoken, albeit
briefly with birds. (laughing) And it’s a different deal right. – So I think, once we– – Bill, you’re Dr. Doolittle, as well as the Science Guy, okay, okay. – Once we have a measure of consciousness, then we will be able to say, does this animal have it, does a baby have it? When is it emergent. But until we have an
understanding of what it is. So there are certain theories, of consciousness. One is that it’s a certain, when you have a system that
has a certain amount of, integrated differentiated information, that it will fundamentally
have consciousness. That could be a computer. That could be any kind of
system, a nervous system. So once we have an understanding,
a theory of consciousness, then we can measure it
and see what has it. – Well and I think it’s
important to think about, if you take out quote half the brain, you’re essentially dealing with, duplicated structures existing correct. So there’s gonna be some assymetry, between left and right. But you’re dealing with half of a brain, that then is pretty much duplicating, all the structures you removed. Once you start chopping up that half, there’s really no more
duplicated structures, you can start taking. So if there’s,
– Prove it. – Amygdala left. (laughing) You can’t take away that Amygdala. There’s nothing to take that place. So if you want to start
chopping up cortex, or if there’s an accident that
compromises part of cortex, you have other parts of cortex, that are similarly structured, that can theoretically take over, some of that function. Once you start getting into
those limbic structures, and the sub limbic structures, all that stuff, there’s no more duplication. You can’t keep like hacking it in half. It’s not like a calculous limit. Like how much can I leave, and still have the person be conscious. (laughing) – Fundamental theory of calculous. – You understood what I said. – I understood what you said. You can’t have a person with
a brain the size of a penny. It’s too little. – But you know what’s really interesting. (laughing) – You were saying chopping
up and chopping up, and I was sitting here just actually, thinking of your vegan cookbook. (laughing) – Broccoli rabe with brain is not bad. (laughing) – The really interesting thing here, is that you can actually, you can take away the Amygdala, which you can take– – But what about the hypothalamus? – You can even take away the hypothalamus. – What, how will I even hear? – Heather you said that way too glibly. – Well I mean if there’s certain people, who are born with calcified Amygdali, so they actually, they
have a disease actually, that calcifies their Amygdali. So they become damaged
and they no longer work. So you can be, let’s say you can be, you can not have emotion, you can still be conscious. You can not have memory, and you can still be conscious. There’s a case in England where, he only remembers things for 30 seconds. So each 30 seconds, he writes down. I’m just now conscious
for the very first time. And then I’m just now conscious
for the very first time. But he still having awareness. So the question is, how much, yeah you can
take away all these things, – How does he remember how to write? – How much of the brain is necessary, to have subjective experience? – Yeah actually that is a great question. How does he remember how to write? – Has he seen Memento? – This is very interesting. This is the same question. – Is a very good question. – It’s Michael’s question. I don’t want it. – He’s seen it 3000 times. – But every single time, it’s like the first time. (laughing) – I love it every time. – So there’s something
called procedural memory, which is different than
declarative memory. – It’s like riding a bicycle. – Exactly. So when you learn something like motoric, like riding a bike or tying a shoe. So what’s interesting
about this case in England, is that he was a pianist, and he could, once he got started playing, he could play the entire piece of music, all the way through. As soon as he came out of it, he didn’t know where he was, what he was doing, whatever. But it’s a procedural memories, with a different part of the brain, called the basal ganglia, which you can engage in, even if you don’t have
declarative memories, or like memories, semantic memories. Memories about things or facts. – So it looks like all of
your research is happening, on people who have brain disorders. – It’s some of the best ways
to learn about the brain, is by seeing what happens, in the natural world, when it doesn’t work. Because of all sorts of
legal and ethical issues, we can’t do that. – On a living person. – So we take what nature gives us, but that’s one of the things that, every brain lesion is different. Every accident is different. There’s a tremendous
amount of unpredictability, when you’re dealing with any
of these sorts of syndromes. – So you used brain mapping to, is that the way to go to cure these, horrific brain diseases like
Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. – Just sleep more. I can cure that. (laughing) – Well I’ve got a question,
I have a question. I had my brain scanned a
couple times on camera, for hilarious science comedy. (laughing) It seemed to me– – Bill you got your brain, ’cause I said Bill you
need your brain examined. (laughing) – Yeah and it was empty. (laughing) Amazing. I just said it’s not empty, I just done use it, that’s all. So it looked to me, like if you could get, another order of magnitude, that is to say, what is the current resolution, of a magnetic resonance image? It looks like it’s half a milometer. – Yep. – Something like that. – Yep, yep. – It looked to me like if you had another, instead of half a milometer, a 50 microns, then you’d really be able to
figure out what was going on. – Well this is where we’re at. – Is that too reductionist to your point? – No I like reductionism. I just was wondering if
that was the pathway to– – This is, so where we’re at is that– – I converted to reductionism
when I got married. (laughing) Happy wife, happy life. (laughing) – Reductionism. – So, (laughing) the state of affairs now, is that we have this technology, to be able to look at the
microstructure of the brain. So we can go in and measure
the activation of one or two, individual neurons in a monkey, or even in a human when
they’re during surgery. And we can look at this
very microstructure, and then we look at the macro structure, or the activation in things, like FMRI, which is like a– – Functional magnetic resonance. – Functional magnetic resonance imaging. Which is sort of looking
from very far away. But we need something in between, like a meso level to understand how, all these circuits are wired up. ‘Cause just looking at
where the blood flows, to a certain area, that’s
what FMRI is looking at, is too– – [Bill] Course. – Exactly. And the other way is too fine. So we need something in between. And there are certain
technologies that are, being developed now. Things like optogenetics, where you can actually look
at the neuro circuitry, and control. – So optogenetics, I did
a little reading on that. And so, you’ve got, photoreceptive organisms, you put in the brain, or proteins. And then you follow the
light that they emit. Is that how that works? – It’s sort of like that. – Is this from Wrath of Kahn? (laughing) – Oh God. God! (laughing) – That was really worth it. – That was deep. That was very– – Pairing geeks up here on the stage. So these are ways.
– Cerebellum there. – These are ways to poke and
prod a living person’s brain, without doing damage. – Yeah basically you can insert, you take these from photosensitive algae. You take the gene that coats for that. You insert it in a virus, which then inserts that into the, animal so far. – Talk faster Heather, faster, faster. (laughing) – Right right, you just said, you get a photoreceptive virus, that you stick in someone’s brain. Did I just hear that? – You take the gene of
the photoreceptive algae, and then you want to
transport it into the brain, so you do it via a virus. That’s not dangerous. – So you’re letting your
virus do your bidding, in someone’s brain. – Yeah and so then what happens. – With their permission. – It’s a friendly virus.
– You put the thing in is ear, and goes into the. I remember. We saw it. – That was creepy. – It’s a virus, it’s algae that you attach to a virus. – Yes, Eugene yes. (laughing) (talking at once) – I got this now. – Viral algae Eugene. Everybody knows this. – Let me see if I got this right. The algae has photoreceptive proteins. – Yes. – There’s no good way to get
that protein into another, living body unless you
attach it to a virus, where that’s what they do. – Well they’re gonna start replicating, they’re gonna start transcribing correct. – Yeah and then what happens is that now, wherever you insert this gene, now you’ve inserted a receptor, that’s gonna be sensitive to light. So now when you shine light on it, the neuron will fire. And so what they’ve
shown, let’s say in mice, for example, is that you can shine a certain, like a blue light, and cause a whole circuit, because it’s being activated. – Dr. Roland. – Yes. Yeah.
– Is it, that you shine a light, and it causes the neuron to fire, or when the neuron fires, it lights up? – No, okay. You’re shining.
– Bill. – I see where you’re going. Well you know, when you shine the light, the receptors that are sensitive to light, open, which then cause
the neurons to fire. Because then there’s a whole rush of, a whole chemical activated.
– So both. – So the virus is
introducing a sensitivity. – Which is detectable. The purpose of that is
to make it detectable. – That’s the whole point. – This is Schrodinger’s viral algae right. (laughing) Physics joke Paul. – Yeah classic. It’s a great. – So Heather. – That’s no ordinary water bottle. – There’s two sides to this. There’s, you want to repair people, who have real neurological disorders, Parkinson’s, but maybe you want to make people smarter, or more, like you said, superhuman. – I’d love to throw a car. What do I need to do? (laughing) – So is any, are you– – How much algae do I eat? (laughing) – Are you or your people, – It’s in her book. It’s in the book. – Are they involved in this work, trying to enhance human
intellectual performance? – There’s something
called neuro prosthetics. And this is where, we’re using some of it right now, to treat psychiatric illness, where we implant electrodes, it’s called deep brain stimulation, to help treat psychiatric patients. But there are things
called neuro prosthetics, where you can implant electrodes, that help people for example, who are deaf to hear, or to help blind people see. And that technology is already being, it’s in pilot studies now. – There’s a whole field
of neuro engineering, that is combining. – And eventually yes, we can do things like enhance
memory and enhance attention, by using these neuron prosthetics. – Is this like drinking Red Bull? (laughing) – Similar. (laughing) – Okay you’re stimulating, our brain, as far as I can tell, is chemistry and electricity. I mean is it something beyond that? You’re manipulating, either the chemistry of the brain, or the electrical circuitry of the brain, with magnetic fields or whatever else. Alright so, if that’s the case, I know my computer uses
electrical circuits. So is there a future
where we’re gonna attach, your brain to a computer? – Yeah I don’t see why not. I mean we already in a sense– – We already do. – We already in a sense are. – We’re doing that after the show. (laughing) – It’s awesome. (laughing) – But there is a, I have an old question about, magnetism and brains. There are animals, apparently, that find direction on their own, using some sort of feral, some sort of feras, iron bearing thing, in their cells, in their brains. But we never got that. How did they get sorted out? (laughing) – Bill you’re trying to find true north. You want to go north. – [Bill] All I want is magnetic north. I’m good with that. – Well the fact that MRI machines work, indicates that there
are magnetic properties, I mean there’s all sorts of
properties to all of our bodies. So there’s smaller, lesser
magnetic qualities to our body, but no we cannot navigate by them. (laughing) – Maybe you can’t. (laughing) – He doesn’t ask directions. – But Bill, other animals
got all kinds of stuff, we don’t have. – Alright. – I have wings. (laughing) – You know newts can
regenerate limbs we can’t. Eagles can fly, we can’t. I mean you just go on down the list. – Alright we were talking about brains. (laughing) – Will it get to that thing where, our brains really will be like a computer? We can hook it up to a computer, and be able to speak languages, without actually learning them? We will be able to download information. – Ask Mayim, apparently she can. (laughing) – No, the answer is no. (laughing) – Wait I think the answer is
probably yes, though right. Eventually. (laughing) No we can. – I’m with you Gene. – I mean there’s computers
that can translate pretty, like Google translate. – But we don’t need. – We’ll be able, we’ll have– (talking at once) – I’m so excited right now. (laughing) – Mayim, Mayim. What, what yeah? Mayim, you ready to bust
the gasket here, go. What?
– No, learning a language is
a very very complicated, just to use that as an example, we’re not translation machines. So in theory, I could picture a world where, if I had a catalog dictionary, I could be hooked up to something, that would allow me to
be a translation machine. But the subtleties of
language and interaction, and the way we communicate
and answer questions, and have experiences through language, is extremely, it’s beyond complicated that
you could plug into a computer. – But, maybe not having
me speak the language, but you could at least maybe read a menu, in another country. – Sure, I will grant you that, yes. – So I know what the hell
I’m getting when I’m Paris. – I will grant you that. That’s possible. – Besides eggs. (laughing) (speaking foreign language) – [Eugene] But meaning– – Which everyone is a mushroom. (laughing) – So you wouldn’t
understand another language, but you could technically translate it, hooked up to a computer. – I’m guessing about the future, so I– – No but I kind of
believe anything you say. (laughing) – When you chew on those pink pills, and it shows you where
you haven’t brushed, how does that work? (laughing) – Brilliant. – Wait, so Heather, do you think, I’m gonna actually rebute Mayim here, do you– – You said rebutt. – Who would have thought– (laughing) Who would have thought some years ago, that a computer would ever
beat a human in chess? Who would have thought that a computer, would ever beat a human in jeopardy? So, computers are moving pretty fast here. So, why wouldn’t the context of language, be just another thing it learns, rather than just a translated dictionary. Why should we put limits on the computers, that have transcended limits, we’ve ever given for them in the past? – They’ll eat us as babies. (laughing) One reason. – Those are not equivalent
comparisons though. – So intelligence is different. So knowledge you’ll see, computers, if you want
to look at it that way, they’re already smarter than us. They can do math quicker than us. They can do calculations. They can translate into languages. They’re much better in terms of, holding a lot of information. And then why would we even want to, sort of incorporate that into our brain. Right now we have our iPhones. We don’t have to remember numbers anymore. Our computers do that for us. So then one of the questions is, what are humans still good for. – In fact, the idea that
you’d plug chips in your head, to know things, it’s, this is not a chip in my head, but it’s in arms reach. – And it eventually it will be. And eventually,
– It just takes, a few extra seconds. – Yeah eventually, it’ll get smaller, and smaller and smaller. You can implant the iPhone, into your brain and you can talk to it, and it’ll give you information. So, the question is where
does humans come in, at some point.
– People already, talk to their iPhones. – Right they do. (laughing) – I gotta step in as an engineer here. I want to remind you that, computers don’t just come out of the sky. Somebody designs these things. (laughing) I don’t want to shock the guys over here. (laughing) – I’ll believe it when I see it. – But then as far as, (laughing) but then as far as communication
in another language, I can easily envision, I guess a pun intended, a computer that can recognize faces, and emotions on faces, and then that would enhance, the translation of a language. Seriously, I don’t think
that’s an extraordinary step. But it’s complicated. – There’s a famous impossible
sentence for computers, where you say time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana. (laughing) – Why is that impossible for a computer? – Because the two sentences
are grammatically identical. They’re grammatically identical, yet they have completely
different meanings. – Why couldn’t a computer learn it, the way you did. (laughing) – [Eugene] Yeah Chomsky. – You are tim-ing of the words, changed how they were perceived? – Yeah, yeah. (laughing) So what we don’t know is
whether the computer then, has to have your life experience, a human life experience. – Consciousness some might say. – The real thing is, will it eventually have consciousness, or experience or subjective states. What is it like, to be a computer?
– Can it ever have, awareness? – Well now we get to the
touring test everybody. I said the touring test guys, just ’cause I could. – That was pretty impressive. – Thanks. (clapping) (laughing) – Some great science fiction storytelling, involves power of the mind, telekinesis, mind control, mind reading. Is that, is anyone working on this? Is it in the future? Or is it just a pipe dream? – Yeah so, well there’s studies, let’s say something like mind reading. There’s studies now where you, put someone in a scanner, and you show them different pictures, or even movies, and you see what the neural
signature is of that. And then you again put
them in the scanner, and the experimenter doesn’t
know what they’re looking at. They’re only reading out
their brain activation. And they can very reliably predict, what the person is seeing. And then if you take that a step back, and you can even look at
what a person is imagining. So over time, the more precise this gets, I can definitely envision, someone just reading someone’s, neural activation, and predicting what it is
they’re thinking about. – So, you’d have to walk
around with some kind of, neuro map visor, so that you can detect if
someone is being turned on, or turned off or be
highly useful socially. – [Heather] Yeah, yeah,
if you’re autistic– – So you’re describing like, super extreme guesstimation. Like meaning not mind reading, you’re just talking
about a very very very, perceptive person. – You could be wrong. The better the technology, the more we understand about the brain, the closer you will be to getting right. – But successful charlatans or, so called mentalists or magicians, they have this ability, at some very reasonable level, well probably through facials. Go ahead. – Well yeah, there’s a lot of subtly that, that’s not mind reading right. That’s a very subtle fine tuning, into body language, gesturing, shifting of basically
the air around people. But there’s nothing
magical, mystical about it. – Your grandmother is here and she agrees. (laughing) – I’m getting something, I’m getting something. (laughing) does anyone having trouble
with their white car, a white car? (laughing) – But I’m sorry, if we take what you’re
talking about Heather, maybe 10 steps further. Is it possible in the future, it would be possible to kind
of record your consciousness, and then market that as, I would be able to live as you for a day, through a sort of VR,
virtual reality playback. – Ooh. – I don’t know if you could ever, that’s a very, philosophical question.
– Just say yes. (laughing) – I tell you what, I would– – I want to be a lady for a day. – Guys, I would buy that
URL right now my man. Ground floor. – But actually another study, that I’m involved in, we’re doing something
called hyper scanning, or dual scanning, where we can scan two
people at the same time, having an interaction. And kind of seeing what’s happening, in the space between two people. Because as I said before, I can never get into your brain, or really know what you’re thinking. And that’s what communication is. It’s about the space between, and now we’re seeing what’s
happening in your brain, when you’re actually really taking in, what I’m saying and vice versa. – And also, much as, as scientists I’m sure
we’d all agree, yeah. (laughing) There are things that we can’t
see and we can’t understand, but there are also things that
we know now as scientists, things like pheromones. There are things that occur, for example between two people, that are not necessarily detectable, in all the other ways we’re looking, but there’s something that happens, that again we don’t need to write off, as magical and mystical. We may not be able to measure it yet, but yes I think we’ll
get there in more ways. – Okay so let me ask, end the show with this exploration. Heather you’re on really, dare I say, dangerous territory, because the more you
know what the brain is, and what it does, as a scientist, what any scientist wants to do, at the end of the day, is control it. You want, that’s the
evidence that you know, what it is you’re doing. – You want to make predictions. – Make predictions, have those predictions come true, and say I know how this thing works. So if the brain is your laboratory, and you say oh here’s this, I’ve just discovered
what makes two people, fall in love, now you make a love potion number nine, and you control, people’s behavior and conduct. Do you have another team of ethicists, behind you looking over your shoulder, at your conduct? – Bah ha ha ha ha. (laughing) – Yes it’s the CIA. (laughing) – There’s a whole field of neuro ethics, which are talking about issues. But yes, I mean ultimately, what we going is from correlation, to causation. When I say we’re going into the brain, and implanting electrodes, for a good cause, to
treat psychiatric illness, we’re controlling emotions. If somebody who was a psychopath– – Well emotions that
are social regressive. – Yeah. – But you can actually, yeah. I mean if we know exactly
what the right formula is, for say love, I mean people will, you can stimulate an emotion in someone, and they’ll label it as love. But no one’s there overlooking
my shoulder saying, there is an IRB, there’s a board that– – IRB? – Yeah, – [Both] Institutional Review Board. – Yes. (laughing) – That makes sure that you
don’t make people fall in love, when they’re not supposed to. (laughing) – [Heather] Exactly. – I feel super safe. (laughing) – Okay so, but the day will surely come where, you can make someone smarter
if they can afford to pay you. You could cure them if
they can afford that. You have all kinds of
neurological disorders. I’m just wondering, what is the, dystopic future of this, and what is the utopic future of this? – Well one issue is that, it could be that only
people who can afford, let’s say the neuro implants, get them, and then they have an advantage. And then everybody will have to, so like performance
enhancing drugs in sports. The reason they outlaw them, is ’cause if one person has it, they have the advantage every
one else has to do it then. – Same with mental illness right, in terms of access to mental health care, and mental– – Exactly. I mean exactly. – One person has a mental illness, everybody else feels like, they have to have a mental illness. (laughing) – No but we’re, I think what you’re getting at, there’s a dangerous
possibility of sort of, narrowing the field of who is well, who is smart, who is desirable, who is accessible, who gets access to care. That, not to bring it down at the end, but that could be dangerous. (laughing) – Yeah. And so, let me ask each one of you, what’s the scariest
future of neuroscience, you can think of. – Well can’t we end on a positive note. – Oh on a positive note, okay, okay. Alright, what is the, you work in this field. What is 50 years in the future, what is that world gifted to us, by you and your research colleagues, 50 years from now, what is that? – Well what I would hope, is that we can really
have a full scale map, of the human brain, going all the way from the genome to, function and to mind and brain. And once we have this
full map of the brain, and how it works, then we can help prevent
things like Alzheimer’s. So rather than looking at treatments, we’re gonna look at prevention. If you can go in and
tweak the genome a bit, so that people don’t get these
kinds of mental disorders, to begin with, then we don’t
even have to worry so much, about the treatment side of things. So that would be wonderful. – So you can you treat the genome, in an adult.
(clapping) Can you treat the genome in an adult, and then that fixes
their brain as an adult? – That would be great if
we could do that yeah. If we could even do it in
an adult, to change it. – I gotta ask though, from an evolutionary standpoint, why is it that, a genetic, that mental illness persists, if it’s really especially dangerous, wouldn’t it have be
eliminated from the gene pool? So I suspect it’s not
in the biggest picture, that deadly to have, a mental illness, if it’s manageable. That is to say, germs and parasites, are much more likely to kill you, than being mentally. – [Neil] Unstable. – Different. And so, I just wonder about this whole thing, when you go to predict the future, without taking into account, let’s say the flu that
killed more people in 1918, than World War I did. And so, the other thing is this is, these questions I think are really only, access only useful, to a society that can afford it. Right, the people that, are more successful at having, an overall health in their
tribe, or their society, might do better than, the one that can get a few– – Just in terms of quality of life, well there are two things there. One is that certain things do persist, for example being a sensation seeker, being really impulsive. That’s a quality that
got people out there, and discovered America right. These kinds of traits
which we might call– – By the way that probably
killed more people, than who actually survived and came back. – Autistic ability and
mental illness, right. – Yeah I mean there’s not, and that’s to say that
everything with mental illness. There are some positive
things about being at, the extreme ends of what
we consider to be normal. There is no such thing as normal. But what studies do show, is that the most amount of any disease, cancer, all sorts of
physiological diseases, the thing that causes people the most, poorest, lowest quality
of life and distress, are mental illness, because they don’t die from it, but they have to suffer their lives. – And often they, have children and pass
on genes that maybe, predisposing to, future mental illnesses. It’s a really sad discussion. I mean we’re trying to
find something uplifting. – We got to wrap this up. So, Mayim, I’m like depressing now. (laughing) What’s in your future? – Personally, or in the
field of neuroscience? What do you mean? – Yeah your personal future. – Oh, you’re looking at it. (laughing) No I mean like whatever. I have this book. It’s called Mayim’s Vegan Table. I work on the Big Bang Theory, and I have two kids and that’s my life. (laughing) – Well 50 years from now, what is neuroscience
gonna be doing for us. – Well he said personally, not neuroscience. – Right, right. Good, good. – I was a good listener. (laughing) – I can measure that actually. – I’m sorry what did you say? (laughing) – Let me offer some sort
of concluding remarks here. I think we, I study the universe. And the interesting thing is that, there’s this universe inside our heads, that is perhaps less well known, than the universe that’s, extends back to the Big Bang and time, and space. And so, it’s curious, maybe the big challenge here is, studying, you’re using your own
brain to study a brain. You’re not some other
entity studying the brain. And that prevents some questions perhaps, from even being asked. ‘Cause you don’t even
know the right question, because the brain is asking
the question about the brain. And,
(laughing) Karl Sagan is famous for, the saying that, humans, conscious humans, are a way for the universe to know itself. And that we’re not the
universe, we’re in the universe, and we use our brain power, to decode the universe. I’m just intrigued by the fact that, the real future here might
just be in our minds. And maybe we will learn, what questions we’re not asking yet. And those are the questions that, keep me going everyday. Because that’s the future of discovery, in any field. So, join me giving a very warm thank you, to this brilliant panel.
(clapping) (cheering)
(clapping) – That was cool man. Great job. Great job, great job man. Great job.
– It was fun. (clapping) Great job you guys. I just thought it was cool. Cool. (clapping) – It’s Q and A time. We have some microphones on the aisles. We can bring up the house
lights maybe to half. And, what we prefer is just, find one person to direct the question to, ’cause if all 12 of us answer, it takes all night. So if you can be specific about it. Sir, you’re up front. – [Audience Member] Hey, how are you doin? – Hello. – [Audience Member] So you
talked a little bit about, the idea of there’s these
people super humans, right, and so there are people out there, who have what I think is
called savant syndrome, who have some kind of
amazing mental abilities. They can like learn new
languages in a week, or do really rapid calculations. So what’s different about
these people’s brains? Is this something we all have
inherently able in our brains, and could we hack it
to enable that ability? – Wait, wait, I recognize that question. You’re the guy who won
this contest aren’t you? Yes he won a contest. So thank you. – [Audience Member] Oh your welcome. – Yeah and they put you first on the line. – [Audience Member]
They told me to rush up. – Excellent. Excellent. (laughing) Okay great question. I think we all want some
of that ability right. So what’s up with that? (laughing) – How can we all become magic? – I don’t have all the answers. But I think what savants is what, they seem to be wired
slightly differently. And so, they seem to have these usually, these isolated areas of specialization. But sometimes at the cost, of other parts of the brain, development of other parts of the brain. So, it’s not necessarily, a good thing to be very very good, at just one thing, and at the cost of other things. And, the only way I think we can, enhance our cognitive abilities, is with working at it. And it’s like anything. Like with loosing weight, you have to work at it. So I don’t think there’s
a sort of magic pill. But it has to do with the way
that their brains are wired, slightly differently. – Okay using the word wiring, so in the future you
can adjust the wiring. If you have a, savant, is there an ethical question, about whether you would
change that about that person? – Yeah I think there is. I think it’s a, I mean it’s like with anything, even with a psychopath, they don’t come in for treatment. – [Neil] As she gestures to. (laughing) – Even psychopaths, need to be asked.
– They might enjoy, being that way. So if they’re not a
threat to other people, or if they’re not in distress, I don’t think that we should
go around just changing people, for the sake of it. – Question here yes. – [Audience Member] Yeah so since we have, the comedians here, I don’t know if you guys, have thought a lot about the intersection, between comedy and neuroscience. – I have yes. – Yeah. (laughing) I wrote a paper on the physiology
of laughter in college. – [Audience Member] Great yeah, so– – [Neil] Actually he did. – It was all wrong but yes I did write it. (laughing) I wrote the shit out of it. – Alright perfect, you know these guys are up here, providing great comedic interjection, and not everyone can do that, like not every brain works that way. So maybe we could hear
from like one comedian, and one neuroscientist like why. – Or how about a neuroscientist
who is a comedian? – [Audience Member] Or yeah yeah. Well I can’t ask all of you, so who. – Yes no, please. – So Mayim go. – [Audience Member] Why are they funny? Why are you guys funny? (laughing) – I don’t know if I can answer that, but I can say that– – [Neil] Can I add that, when she wouldn’t say this about herself, on the Big Bang Theory, her timing is impeccable. – [Woman] She was Blossom. (laughing) – That’s my mother. Thank you mom. (laughing) – [Eugene] Wait what? – Yes from 1991, to 1994, she was Blossom on the show Blossom. (cheering) And you were the young Bette Midler, in the Rose. – Yeah, in Beaches. – Or Beaches, Beaches, yeah. – No I mean, I’m happy to let
you guys also speak to it. I mean in terms of, what’s funny– – We’re not, we want you to speak go. – No but in terms of what’s funny, and why are things funny, there is a really
interesting field of sort of, understanding the timing of how, complicated, it is, it’s
complicated social interaction. But I think, for me as an actor and as a scientist, what I’m aware of is
what we constantly do, is we’re constantly scanning and tracking, and it’s, people can do
it better than others. Stand ups can do something, that I can’t do, right. I can’t do improv. There’s a different set of skills, that actors and performers have. But the joke that we tend to be neurotic, that we tend to be constantly looking, to make someone feel something, is a very complicated
thing about being an actor. And I didn’t think about it as much, when I was younger. But when you meet other actors, and when you talk about process, which a lot of people laugh. They figure like oh
we’re paid to be funny, or we’re paid to make
people believe something, it’s a very complicated process by which, I need to make you feel something. I need to make you believe something, and I need every single
person to feel that. So if you’re a standup, you’re working with a room of people. When I work in front of a live audience, I need everyone to feel something, and it’s a really complicated interaction, especially if you work
with a live audience. It’s very different than not. Because it is a constant tracking. – Heather are comedians subjects of your– – Well yeah actually, so this is really exciting stuff. This is a new area of
research we’re going to, is actually the neural basis, of creativity and improvisation. And so, what we find is that, whether it’s jazz improv, or comedy improv, there’s a certain neural
signature involved, when people are improvising. So you can put people in a scanner, and even freestyle rappers. So you give them a memorized rap, and then they can freestyle. Or you give a musician a
memorized piece or improv. And when they’re improvising, what they find is that, a part of the prefrontal cortex, the medial prefrontal cortex, becomes extra activated, and that has to do with
internally generated ideas. And the dorsal lateral part
of the prefrontal cortex, becomes deactivated, and that has to do with
sort of self awareness, and monitoring your behavior. So you almost go into
this free flowing state. If you become too aware, you mess up, you’re not
good at improvising. You have to kind of loose
yourself, so to speak. And that’s what the neuro imaging shows. – I have a follow up. Is there any connection
between improv and optimism? – I don’t know. Actually wait, one of the studies showed, actually one of the studies showed that, when they were improvising, they increased activation of the Amygdala, which could be related
to positive feelings. – [Neil] That’s your brain part. – That’s kind of my thing. (laughing) – [Neil] That’s interesting to know. Right here sir. – [Audience Member] Yeah hi. I have a question, actually I have a couple of questions, but then when you guys mentioned, eugenics. (laughing) – That’s kind of your thing. – What’s your question Himmler? (laughing) – [Audience Member] Wow, wow. – Too soon, too soon. – [Neil] Too soon, too soon. (laughing) – [Audience Member] Well that
kind of shades my question, doesn’t it. I was actually, all I could think about, was the movie Idiocrasy. Now I don’t know if any of
you guys have seen that. (clapping) It’s kind of a scary look
at what might happen if– – If dumb people keep breeding. (laughing) – [Audience Member] Thank you yes. – It’s luckily make believe, but go on. – [Audience Member]
Okay so my question is, to the neuro folks over there. I don’t know if you’ve seen anything, going in that direction or not or? (laughing) – Have you seen a genetic predisposition, in society to become idiots? (laughing) – I didn’t see the movie, so I can’t speak to that. – Well, this is gonna be, I’m trying to be like sort of PC. Well, one thing is that, with evolution in the past right, if it was survival of the fittest, then those who just, couldn’t make it, couldn’t make it. And they would die out. And then there would be certain
traits that would evolve, and survive. But now, we have all sorts of– – Ways to keep those people around. – Exactly. (laughing) It’s kind of, messing with evolution.
– We keep our diseased, idiots alive. (laughing) – So who knows what’s gonna happen. – If we were in Washington D.C., there would be a GS
level joke right there. – [Neil] Question right here. – I have kind of a in depth, and specific question, I guess to the scientists, and I guess to the neuroscientists here, based on quantum theories of the mind, what’s your take on the idea that, consciousness originates
at the quantum level, and if you’re familiar with
Schrodinger’s equation, the very fact that observing something, changes the outcome. So the mind observing consciousness, what’s your guy’s take on that? – Yeah I can offer
something on that as well. So a quantum– – The cat is actually dead. (laughing) – Quantum physics has sort
of mysterious properties, that are real. But they defy anything
your five sense or more, have ever experienced in your life. So you say well that’s weird. But it’s real. It happens. Particles pop in and out of existence. You look at it, and then it changes into something else. This is the behavior of the universe on a smallest scale. Because it has all these
mysterious properties, what I have found in my experience, watching people think about the world, is they have this urge to
insert quantum physics, where there’s something where they don’t, otherwise understand what it is. So we don’t really
understand consciousness, quantum physics must be at work, alright. (laughing) And in fact the more they
invoke quantum physics, that’s the evidence that
they know least about, what it is they’re talking about. (laughing)
– Well I admit that. I don’t know what I’m talking about. – But I think the Heisenberg
uncertainty principal, I mean I do appreciate this notion, that any observation of something, alters what it is, how we perceive it, how we describe it. I appreciate that.
– However, (laughing) when I observe you, you don’t pop into a
different quantum state. You’re a macroscopic entity. Large things, – [Audience Member] Six foot seven. – Average out these principals, so that we have a macroscopic world, that lends itself to
macroscopic discussions. – Just tell him to sit down. You just want to tell him to sit down. – If we were the size of particles, yes. Me, beaming eyes at you with the light, would pop you into some
other part of the universe. Yes.
(laughing) But you are big. So it doesn’t happen, okay. – [Audience Member] Is that a fat joke? (laughing) – It would be cool. It would be cool if we
were like particle size, and you walked through a doorway, okay. You would diffract, okay. (laughing) ‘Cause that’s what light does. I mean, it’d be funny, if planks constant were
much larger than it is, weird stuff would happen all the time. (laughing) Okay, so yeah. – Can I just bring it to
the brain for a second? Okay so there’s a, I just want to diffuse this theory. ‘Cause everyone, I
always get this question, about the quantum theory. And there’s this, Roger Penrose, who is a mathematician at Oxford, and Stewart Hammerhoff, who is an anesthesiologist. They came up with this theory of quantum, the quantum theory of consciousness. Basically saying that, at some level at the structural level, of the neuron, is where these quantum effects
can sort of take place, and that’s where consciousness
lies in the rest of it. But there’s no evidence for that. And also, the temperatures
at which these effects, would have to occur, they’d have to be cooler
than the temperature, that the brain is currently at. So there’s a lot of things
that go against this idea, but again, people tend to want to, put together something mysterious, with something else mysterious, but as far as we know, from the field of neuroscience, there’s no evidence to it. – Can I ask a follow up, question about this? – Okay, only if it’s quick, but go. – No that’s– (laughing) – [Eugene] It’s right behind ya. – [Neil] Over here, so it’s over here. (laughing) – And he was very polite to you. – I didn’t get the, – I’m cutting the line. – Sorry cut the line. – Doesn’t this imply this idea, does that imply that the
consciousness has mass, and do we know that to be true? – Ooh. – I got to say, you guys as an engineer, (laughing) at some level, you can measure, the volt with a logical analyzer. You can measure the voltage, without screwing up the circuit, at some level. – I don’t understand what you’re saying. (laughing) – If one day we establish consciousness, as the sum of some
energies within the brain, then by E=MC squared, consciousness has a mass equivalent. – That’s what I’m saying. – [Neil] Yep, okay. Thank you. Yes sir. – [Audience Member] Okay so, tonight’s discussion was
mostly centered upon, human neuroscience for obvious reasons. (laughing) There was a few mentions about, neuroscience and
consciousness and whatnot of, other species. And we do know that some
species are quite smart. And not just like our
close relatives like, great apes, but also, toothed whales, some birds like parrots and crows, and even I recently saw the video, that looked like it was unedited, of an elephant panting an elephant. – Was that on YouTube? – [Audience Member] No, it was not. (laughing) It was not. – Was the elephant soapy? – I saw a dolphin playing chess, is that real? (laughing) – [Audience Member] Well not
just, my real question is, what might consciousness be, if it has arisen in different
lineages of living things, what might consciousness be for them, and also what might it be for say, a possible alien life form. – We got a Hindu here. (laughing) – So Heather so, conscious, big brained mammals out there, will we learn, can we learn about our consciousness, by studying them? You work on lab rats to learn about– – I don’t work on rats, I work on humans, but yeah. – Oh you work on, excuse me. Did you hear how she said that? I don’t work on rats, I work on humans. Yeah okay. We all feel better about that, yeah, yeah. – Well they’re different. They’re different. – Different IRB protocol. – Yeah exactly. Totally different protocol. – That is rich. The B protocol. That is, that’s comedy right there. – Different protocol yeah. (laughing) – So what’s really, there
are two different things. There’s intelligence,
there’s consciousness. A bee can have consciousness. It can feel a sensation. It can sense something. It can do something very simplistic. So you don’t need to be able
to play chess to be conscious. We know that in certain creatures, like in dolphins, in whales, in humans, there’s certain types of cells, called spindle cells, especially in animals that are social, and that that might have
some kind of link up, to awareness, or at least some
of kind of self awareness. But until we have a fundamental theory, of what consciousness is, we won’t be able to know for sure, what something has. We only can look at behavior. Even with humans, in the lab, you have to just ask them, did you see that or not, or were you aware of that or not. That’s the only measure we have. – I saw a comic of two dolphins, one swimming next to another. And they’re referring to
the humans up on the shore. And one says, one dolphin
says to the other, if they face each other and make noises, but there’s no evidence
they’re actually communicating. (laughing) Yes right here. – [Audience Member] Yes,
first I have to say, what an awesome panel. And Bill you did great in the debate. (cheering)
(clapping) – Thank you! – I’m really star struck just being here. So but anyways, I want to ask two of the neuroscientists, and to Neil, ’cause I
think you’ve been onstage, I think a lot of you guys
have been on stage with him. It’s a rather controversial position, held by Sam Harris, about whether– – [Mayim] He was one of
my colleagues at UCLA. (talking at once) – Let me preface this by saying, I think he’s a brilliant order. I think he communicates very well. I just know he’s got some, he’s a great thinker too. But it’s trying to parce out whether it’s, whether we agree or not, or whether there’s consensus. And the question is about, whether or not we have free will. – Oh yeah I can answer that. – Free will. – So as far as we know from, neuroscience– – The point is Sam Harris
recently published, a tract on the assertion that, we do not have free will. And the evidence cited for it, comes from neuroscience. – I must answer this I have no choice. (laughing) Sorry you guys go. (laughing) Or do I. (laughing) – Free will, what’s up?
– So as far as we know, it started with Benjamin
Levit studies in the 1980s, and then all the way until
modern studies now that, the sense of freewill
is kind of an illusion. Free will is an illusion
in the sense that, your brain decides first, and you become aware of it after the fact. And we know this from a
whole series of studies, from measuring neural observations, even studies now where, you can put somebody in a scanner, and you could predict for example, up to 10 seconds now, before they’re gonna decide whether, they’re gonna go left or right. Or press the left button or right button, by just reading their brain activation. – [Neil] The brain pre decides. – Yeah the brain, it’s called the readiness potential. So it kind of is gearing up. And you can start to read
how the neurons are firing, and it’s gonna go sort of
toward one way or another. And at a certain point, you can make that prediction, well before the person
becomes consciously aware, that they’ve decided to go left or right. – Big N too, talking big N. – Yeah yeah, that’s a big N there. (laughing) It’s pretty well established that yes. – Okay so but does that alone, negate free will. Your brain has free will
presumably to do it. – The brain decides. Your perception of I made the decision, only comes after the
brain has already kind of, decided. – But hold on, I made the decision, is my brain that’s I’m
making the decisioning. – Right. – So let me ask you this. What is this phenomenon? I sure hope I don’t see my
keys in the trunk of my car, and close the lid on it. Was it that? You know what I’m talking about? (laughing) – Why does your brain keep
putting keys in the trunk? – You feel that you’re
gonna make a mistake, but you go ahead and
make the mistake anyways. – This is the thing. Everybody’s talking about consciousness, but much of our behavior, much of what we’re doing, is happening outside of awareness. So our, you’re already halfway there, before you’re realizing, oh where am I going, what am I doing? And so if we had to be consciously aware, of single move we made, the brain doesn’t have
the capacity to do that. Consciousness has a limited capacity. But the unconscious processes, seems to be unlimited. – Which is not to say we also
couldn’t call that free will, right, in an unconscious way. – You’re unconsciously yes, you’re unconsciously making
decisions freely all the time. (laughing) – [Neil] Good answer, correct. (talking at once) We only have time for two more questions. I’m sorry for the rest of the line there. Sir. Wait I see someone really
young in the line there. – Aw. – Sir, I’m not referring to you. – [Audience Member]
Does that mean I’m old? – We’ll take the last two here, and just one more over there. Sir go. – Okay the question is, kind of following up around
the issue of awareness, and heightened awareness, and the use of psychotropic drugs, and hallucinogenics, in treatment of brain disorders. – [Neil] Oh okay, yeah. – [Audience Member] And I
have one other question. How many people on the
panel are left handed? – Bothsies. I’m a little of both. – We’ll get rid of them. (laughing) Eugenics. Just kidding. – No, no. Once again, left handed people have
certain advantages, to certain things right. – Yes. – It’s hilarious old joke. You want your kid to grow up, to be a left handed relief pitcher, because he or she is gonna, so far, make more money. – Actually people who are left handed, have less lateralization. So language tends to be more lateral. It’s not completely in the left brain, but there’s more– – Lateralization. – More activation in one
hemisphere of the brain, than the other. So like language tends to be, lateral, or there’s more
activation in the left hemisphere. But people who are left handed, their tends to be more activation, in the right hemisphere, above and beyond those
who are right handed. So there’s less lateralization. There’s more sort of distributed, across the brain activation. – I’m about 20% left handed. – But the point of the– (laughing) the psychotropic, the
drugs, the treatment, there are actually now
studies where I’m at, they’re using ketamines, as a treatment for depression, which used to be a club
drug called special K. And if you take too much of it, you can dissociate. – We’re doing that later. (laughing) In the name of science. (laughing) – Hey man, you guys like
wanna dissociate later. (laughing) – I’ve got some special K. (laughing) – But I think also, treatment for depression, it’s sort of one set, but there also is a field, that’s looking at sort of
understanding altered states, of consciousness and our perception, of altered states of consciousness. Probably beyond the scope of what we’re– – And even using drugs
like ectasy for therapy, and treatment for PTSD. – And therapeutically with sort of, well trained, and very elaborate supervision, it can be very helpful. (laughing) (talking at once) (laughing) – Just a quick follow up on that. Heather, is there any mental state, beyond the one that is alert and bright, that can be chemically induced, that is a greater mental
state of awareness, than the one you started with, because it appears that, every time you do anything
chemical to the brain, it disrupts your ability, to know what reality is. – Okay you can go ahead. – No, go ahead. – Well so. (laughing) First of all, just in our non drug induced state, our perception is different
than what’s necessarily, out there in reality. So there’s all sorts of illusions. You don’t see what’s right
in front of your face. So there’s that. So anytime you but add a
certain kind of chemical, you change the
neurochemistry of the brain, it’s not gonna say that
you’re gonna be more aware. You’re just gonna have
a different type of, awareness and perception. – But when you have
things like synesthesia, when you have senses crossing from LCD, those kinds of experiences, these are kind of qualitative
or quantitative questions. Yes, you’re having more experiences, that are much more complicated, and much more trippy, than what we’re experiencing, in our normal state.
– Official vocabulary. – But I think, well yeah. That’s subjective also. – [Neil] And you’ve read
about these conditions before. – I have. (laughing) in Life magazine. (laughing) – So my follow up question is, what if the way you see blue
is different than the way, that I see blue?
(laughing) – It’s like really red. It’s like the same. (laughing) – Last question on this
side of the audience. – Big pressure for the last question. Something I’ve always
been fascinated with. You guys talked about, telekinesis, mind reading and all that. Where does deja vu fall into the spectrum? We’ve all experienced it. We’ve all had that moment or many moments, that we know what’s coming, but we don’t know why. – Have you asked this before? (laughing) I waited for one of you, I’m sorry. (laughing) – It’s only because, I had already heard you ask that question. (laughing) It was like ah! – Have you heard George
Carlin comment on deja vu. He says, “Have you ever
walked into a room, “and you were sure, “it has never happened to you before?” (laughing) That’s vuja de. (laughing) So deja vu, what do you
guys say about that? – I’m not an expert in this area, but I think that there’s a sense that, something is triggered in the brain, where you get a sense of familiarity. And then you attribute that, to what’s happening around you. And there’s also studies that show, when you loose that sense of familiarity, some people think that a
person they know very well, is an imposter. So they think they’re husband or wife, is an alien, because they
loose the sense of familiarity. But and sometimes that same
neuro circuit is activated, in any situation. And they feel like
they’ve been there before. – And I think that’s sort of speaking, to the sort of redundancy
that occurs in the brain, that the notion is that, there are many ways to
get to one destination. And sometimes pathways get triggered, that have this sort of, this sense of familiarity, because you’ve literally activated, a pathway that is redundant. I mean everything’s gotta fit in there. Sure there’s miles and miles and miles, but there are certain things, that are going to trigger, redundant kind of pathways, that also again have that sense of, I’ve done this before. And your brain thinks it has. – And also the other thing with that, memories are malleable. Each time you re-remember something, you can reconstruct it. It’s different than the
memory of your iPhone. The picture that you look at, will stay the same, 10,000 years from now, that picture will be exactly the same. But every time you remember something, it slightly changes. So we can rewrite history in a way. – [Neil] The last question of the evening, yes. – [Child Audience Member] If
someone was born in space, how would that affect the way, their brain develops? – Aw.
– Ooh. (clapping)
(cheering) – That’s great. – Well played. – [Neil] How old are you? – [Child Audience Member] Nine. – You’re nine. It’s passed my bedtime. Is it past your bedtime? (laughing) – When you see your parents, let em know they’re irresponsible. (laughing) Unless you drove here. (laughing) Child genius. – So first, that’s a brilliant question. First of all, second, I can take it only so far. Maybe, Heather and Mayim have some other, comments on that. But, there are a lot things in our lives, that we evolve to be on Earth, with our force of gravity, and the kind of light that’s here. And so there’re all these things, that shape what eventually
we call common sense. And, things fall down, when you let go of them. In fact the act of saying let go, means to drop it. Where as in space, letting go doesn’t drop it. It just sort of stays there. So your awareness of what is normal, is really different. And we don’t really know. It’s kind of unethical at this point, to just do that experiment. (laughing) See what happens to my kid, after she’s born in zero G. So, we don’t really know. But from the experiments done, there are things about your ears. Inside your ear, you get a sense of balance. Okay. Oh sorry.
(laughing) I’m just saying. At the fitness center, I do
that little balance thing, so you can do it. So your sense of balance comes about, because of your in a gravity field. If you, born in space, and that’s all you know, and then we put you here on Earth. (laughing) Did you see the end of the movie Gravity? – No. (laughing) – In it, Sandra Bullock, whose been a long time in space– – The only accurate part of it. (laughing) – She crawls up on the beach, and she realizes she hasn’t had to walk, in a long time, her sense of balance, had grown accustomed to being in zero G. And had forgotten, what it was like to walk on Earth. – Dr. T, I got to interject this. – [Neil] Do it. – You don’t know that. – Don’t know what. – You don’t know that if
a kid were born in space, that he or she came back to Earth, couldn’t figure it out. You don’t know. He or she may have actually
a whole different deeper, understanding of inertia
and physics and friction. I admit, we don’t want to run that test. (laughing) – Uncle Bill is right, we don’t know. Okay. (laughing) – But our closest guess is Sandra Bullock. – Yeah best evidence is what happened, at the end of the movie Gravity. (laughing) Thank you all for coming, to StarTalk Live. (clapping)
(cheering) Thank you, Micheal.

100 thoughts on “Big Brains at BAM | StarTalk Live! with Neil deGrasse Tyson | Full Episode

  1. 6 days ago…..what women do before tampons?%..separate subject:?…dating sites?….may = law suites>?…….current tech:?%..: stais project?%… = $…

  2. In my view, awareness resides beyond mind or brain. There is an energy — an EMF or range of EMFs — perhaps related to chi energy, which has been measured — which has the ability to notice, to sense, to be present. Meditators know this directly from their own experience.

  3. 2014 🙂 you have kept it until it started to rot and now a group of idiots seems to be amazed by this smelly and rotten flick… you should keep it longer for yourself…

  4. I couldn't stop laughing at the naivety of these scientists in describing consciousness they are far from truth.

  5. Great but why do Americans have to make so much noise? Like when someone says something that the audience agrees with they make a whooping, yelling, cheering noise. I have noticed this many many times. Why so much yelling?

  6. I've been mostly disappointed with Mayim's science communication in the past. This was the first time I have seen her present scientific ideas accurately. Makes me respect her more.

  7. Any time both Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Bill Nye are together, either on a stage or in a studio environment, (both with microphones turned on lol) the passive aggressive tension becomes increasingly palpable.

    They, "kindly," argue, talk over and interrupt eachother, etc. to such an extent it makes for difficult viewing/listening.

    Watch, you'll see what I mean.

  8. 15:24 That look on NDT's face as he appreciates the very educated conversation between the 2 ladies.

  9. "What a scientist wants is making predictions that come true"… as an economics student this contradicts everything I was ever taught

  10. My opinion on Paul. I don’t think he can act. And I don’t think Neil respects him at all with his condescending “ wa what Paul” at 8:10 😂😂

  11. Paul “big brains” Rudd😂😂😂. Well he did better than I’d do…but I still don’t know why he’s up there.

  12. 2 hours of neuroscience belony which only based on hypothesis rather on final conclusion and evidence, I would be happy if they let other guests talk like Bill, Paul and two other comedians.
    There are absoulately more questions missing in Neuroscience.

  13. ⭐🗣 is amazing my question is that; why is it that we continue let certain organizations and few people with wealth to limit our abilities and knowledge to affect everyone's livelihood but themselves; meanwhile the ability to learn to become great through better education system and things that will become basic for everyone to have; so we can think about inventing the next big thing.

  14. It's interesting to see that Heather and Mayim don't interrupt each other, but everyone else does.

  15. First time I watched the show, and I'm blown up with the insane quality of brillant discussion about so many cientific topics and the sarcastic humor note. I'm a fan now! Thank you for offering such an amazing kind of show on a time of so much lazy multimedia content (I'm argentinian, by the way, so you have some public from the other side of the world).

  16. two chimps were playing poke with sticks… One chimp said I can pick a big rat with my stick, another said I can pick up an elephant with my stick… All the chimps laughed hard at him. years later, we have cranes that can pick up literally a hundred elephants.

    Human ridicule/skepticism of computers and consciousness is just like that!

  17. Even though I have no business listening to 1/2 of what's going on. I know whom each of these people are in their respective fields and this was what I needed. I love how Mayim can talk so intelligently and mid sentence insert sarcasm that's so down to earth and comedic and laugh to herself.

  18. Wtf is mayim so focused on in her hands? Weird. Ok,, finally see…it looks like a paper clip. Boy she is really into it like a security blanket. Btw, I love her so don't think I'm being critical just fascinated by her fascination. Maybe she is also annoyed that heather jumps on every question like a tiger on red meat.

  19. First question. Guy does not direct question to one person. As Tyson asked. It that a brain thing?

  20. I don’t like the 2 guys on the far left. They constantly interrupt with stupid jokes. I wish this startalk Live had only Paul Rudd, Dr Mayim, Dr Heather, and Dr Tyson.

  21. That was a boring talk. Couldnt watch it because the comedians kept interrupting it. Maybe it got better later, but by the 20th minute they lost me.

    I also got immediately closed to one of the scientist women when she started talking about veganism and had to say some anti omnivore nonsense, because vegans can´t respect others.

  22. Tyson is a nothing. No real research for his dissertation, no real discoveries just excellent rhetorical skills and stage presence. Sadly, he is the affirmative action poster boy for the field of physics. Yes Neuroscience is a legit discipline buy it is an easier doctorate to get than other and it is on the level of a Psy.D plus it is easier to wed a particular philosophy to it than other disciplines. Myiam Bailik was a know it all when she was Blossom and she is even worse that she had her doctorate; is she a tenured professor? What research has she done? Any discoveries? NO. Just a load of opinions that she can use her doctorate to validate. When Hollywood speaks, I run.

  23. The jokes were so cringe at first, but man 30 minutes in, I was actually laughing really hard. This was really awesome, I'm so glad I watched this lol

  24. I am amazed withal panel of neuroscientists & astrophysicists no one touched on the global shared experiences of those who have been declared legally dead and then resuscitated.

  25. Star Talk would be great if they just got rid of the stupid "comedians". They are not the least bit funny and interrupt important discussions and just show how awful they are.

  26. Wonderful discussion through and through; the comedic interjections only heightened the sense of enjoyment, never detracted.

    Selfishly, though, my favorite part was Pall Rudd's early mention of Judgment City, a reference to the (perhaps cult classic?) Albert Brooks movie "Defending Your Life." That was one of the most casual deep cuts I've ever experienced, and I can't help but wonder how many people might recognize it.

  27. Oh Heather is definitely not sexually frustrated. With that figure she gets at least 6 indecent offers just going to local McDonalds

  28. Could be wrong but I think Paul Rudd was there to help attract people like myself who wouldn't normally watch this!

  29. Mayim Bialik is an A-hole. You can tell by her body language and what she says that she believes herself to be intellectually superior to everyone on the panel. She is fiddling with something in her hand as if to say, "I'm above this conversation and bored."

  30. okay i'm somewjat confused can anybody help me please, so they say sam harris free will book just released, but that's "ages" ago now, how recent is this? thank you stranger 🙂

  31. imagine trying to describe this dance to a friend 30years ago, "so there was a group of comedians(I think they called 'a bunch'),who where chillen with a group of neuroscientists at a black mans event who happened to be an astrophysisist"


  32. am I the only one annoyed by the women being interrupted while saying something interesting about the brain for some cheap laugh? I only say women because I dont remember their names.

  33. Would have liked to hear some discussion on the theory of our consciousness evolving from use of psychedelics.

  34. This must be old, because Mayim's children are older than what she stated in this video. Her sons are about 14 and 11.

  35. I liked how comedians participated in conversation with the two neuroscientist but the two neuroscientist seemed like they were reading everything from the books they didn't seem convincing about their ideas of the brain and the future of the brain, and I wish they had as a guest dr. Gabor Mate. And let me clarify is that we have free will, but just sometimes that free will is unconscious sometimes, you can think of unconscious free will as freudian slip, that is just one example.

  36. Did you notice when Mayim Bialik is talking to Dr. Heather Berlin, Mayim looks at her eyes and then her boobs, eyes, boobs, eyes, boobs?

  37. 1:33:55 Since Bill brought up evolution and the level of danger of things that are still issues. I think that its only fair to point out that there are several things that, according to that, shouldn't be problems anymore; but they are issues therefore they are not a problem? Is that what I'm suppose to take from his point.

  38. Mayim Bialik is that like that kid who jumps on everything. It was funny to see how she tries to jump, she is smart but she tries hard to show that. Dr. Berlin seems equally smart but she is a lot more gentle and composed.

  39. I'm currently only 30 mins in and the 2 'comedians' to the far left are so irritating, constantly interrupting the interesting discussion with cringey, crap jokes. And you can see how everyone else on stage is just awkwardly laughing along. Whereas Paul Rudd just seems interested in listening to the discussion and only jumps in to say something funny when hes not interrupting the others.

  40. What sort of Qualification are you devising when our knowledge of the Universe moves on over the 4% Of Which! we know only a percentage of ? If PhD is Permanent head Damage! Please stop edifying yourselves by ramming what You-consider Intelligence, let yourself find your own common sense and move on from there! 96% of the Unknown Universe requires humbleness….. Some way to go here then. I thought there was a marked difference between “teaching and learning.” 4/100! RDR

  41. Let's see how long Miyam and her poor children being breast fed until 5???? WTF last on this ridiculous vegan diet. We're called omnivores for a reason. Anybody? Anybody? I feel like people are really starting to lose a connection to the past wisdom, its called common sense!!!

  42. Hey Neil! This is Carl Sagan from the grave speaking through the means of this inferior being known as DB, "but seriously, was my shadow too big? Did you find out all the answers already, but don't care to share them? What's going on? I showed the ingredients of the stuff of life (primordial soup), promoted diversity w/ humor and the breaking down of starwars, I talked about the dangers of climate change… and this is what you're doing with your intelligence? Start thinking again my star pupil. Think…Divergently"

  43. How can unconscious neurological process be called free will? What does it mean to have unconscious will? I don't understand how really smart people can think that unconscious processes activated by environmental stimuli; which fire along neural networks organized based on the laws of physics (whether deterministic or probabilistic) occurring both outside and inside the system; can be considered free or will of any kind. It sounds more like a loose metaphor, that looses meaning under examination, than an actual description of experience of reality.

  44. According to Wikipedia Mayim Bialik IS NOT A SKEPTIC, a born Mormon, she converted to fundamentalist Judaism. She considers herself "aspiring Modern Orthodox". Since she believes in an ancient unproofable myth., she surely is not a *skeptic*.

  45. i get Neil and the two ladies being there but what's with the three stooges on the end, it was really annoying hearing them interrupt with lame jokes every 10 secs

  46. The guy who can hold his breath underwater for 22 mins must have been terrible at math as a kid.

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