Solving a complex equation, getting up early to go to the gym before work, or treating yourself to a much-needed vacation… Whatever it may be, you are the ruler of your mind, body, and life. Or so you’d think. But what about breathing, remembering, and perceiving? Your brain is the genius behind your day-to-day functions, without which, you’d have no chance of survival in the complex world. And on the season premiere of Brain Games, Meet the Brain, we introduce you to your brain like never before. We’re heading across the pond to London, where we’ll show you how your brain is much more than the sum of its parts.
Your brain runs the show from behind the scenes. But can we override these evolutionary tendencies and take full control? Find out why the brain is the ultimate master of your mind.
Habits like breathing or swallowing are necessary for our survival and, thanks to our brain, we don’t even have to think about it. Our brain stem takes care of those involuntary habits, making these reactions automatic. But are you stronger than these impulses?
We played a game that tests your startle reflex. No matter how hard participants tried to resist their instincts, loud noises, fast motions, and the unexpected broke their focus. This is because your startle reflex is one of your brain’s automatic evolutionary responses that makes this a built-in instinct.
Being aware of the world around you relies on your ability to take in sensory information, whether it be through sight, sound, touch, or taste. But without our brain’s automatic processing, our awareness would be jumbled. This is because the brain’s visual cortex brings together the basic elements of lines and edges, circles and contrast, as the beginning of sight. Beyond this are the occipital cortex and parietal lobe. This is where the brain starts to piece together what objects are and tells you how to make sense of the individual elements.
We put this to the test with a famous test, known as the Thatcher Effect. Using famous celebrities and historical figures, we flipped their photos upside down. However, the viewer had no problem recognizing who the person was. Upon completion we flipped the photo to its normal orientation to reveal that the face’s eyes and mouth were actually flipped upside down. This occurs because the brain actually examines individual features of a face to determine identity rather than seeing the face as a whole. Your brain tricks you from noticing the features are flipped until the orientation is rotated back to normal.
We use language to communicate with each other and express ourselves. But without the brain, our capacity for understanding would be eliminated. The temporal lobe is our language center and is essential for word and letter association.
To prove the brain’s superpower, we tested what’s considered the human language instinct. By looking at a common phrase that has all the letters scrambled up, readers are still able to understand the saying. This is because your brain really only needs a few indicators to anchor each word and assume meaning.
These are just examples of the many ways our brain controls our daily business—it’s all of our brain regions that help us survive in the modern world.
Do you think you have the strength to overpower your brain? Find out in this Brain Games challenge!