The most unusual brains are not the largest, nor the ones that can remember the most digits of the number pi. What fascinates Helen Thomson—a neuroscientist by training, a journalist by trade—are the brains that see auras, feel another’s pain, or play music around the clock. In her new book, Unthinkable, she travels the globe to find out what life is like for these people who perceive a completely different world than she does. How does a man who believes he’s a tiger live in a human community? How can a father who believes that he’s dead go to dinner with his kids? What’s it like to be lost in your own living room? Thomson joins us on the podcast with answers that might teach you something about your own noggin. This episode originally aired in 2018.
Go beyond the episode:
- Helen Thomson’s Unthinkable
- Read her interview with a dead man—or at least, a man who thinks he’s dead
- Scientific American lists 10 of the biggest ideas in neuroscience of the 21st century
- Meet the scientists who discovered the brain’s internal GPS
- Think you might be a synesthete? Take neuroscientist David Eagleman’s “Synesthesia Battery” questionnaire to measure your perception
Tune in every week to catch interviews with the liveliest voices from literature, the arts, sciences, history, and public affairs; reports on cutting-edge works in progress; long-form narratives; and compelling excerpts from new books. Hosted by Stephanie Bastek.
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