His tour concludes with the ultimate loss of consciousness, death—reflecting physiologically on near-death experiences. He postulates that survivors’ reports of soaring down tunnels of light and reliving memories reflect the brain’s response to being starved of oxygen and flooded with stress-induced neurotransmitters. Otherwise orderly neural operations most likely go haywire, triggering the visual cortex to generate apparent white light and memory storage mechanisms to go awry. This speculation underscores Bainbridge’s theme—that what often appears to be supernatural really is natural after all.
All in the Mind
Listen to the show and read Natasha Mitchell’s blog at www.abc.net.au/rn/allinthemind
Who spends her Saturdays debating the nature of happiness, eavesdropping on brain surgery and investigating the evolutionary reasons for grief? Natasha Mitchell, that’s who—host of the award-winning Australian Broadcasting Corporation radio show All in the Mind, now in its sixth year. Every week for half an hour, Mitchell finds a new doorway through which to explore the world of the brain, whether via the diary of a brain tumor patient or art made by the mentally ill. Her forays, though always creative, never come at the expense of the science: Mitchell is not only fascinated by the mind but also adept at understanding and communicating its nuances.
Based in Melbourne, All in the Mind occasionally focuses on local events and issues such as the Australian science fair, but more often than not the show provides listeners with a rich, global perspective about brain, behavior and scientific research in general. One recent segment, for example, delved into the ways in which animal experimentation ethics differ in Australia, America and the U.K. Mitchell invites listeners from around the world to share their stories and experiences on the air. And although she may be broadcasting from the other side of the world, her warm demeanor and soothing voice recall the girl next door.
The show’s Web site provides free access to previous episodes, transcripts and Mitchell’s recently launched blog, so fans can catch up with the host and her thoughts on the latest neuroscience and psychology news all week long. “Think of it as a digital play space for the mind,” Mitchell says.