CEREBRAL INSIGHTS

Charlie Rose Brain Series
www.charlierose.com
DVD (free online or $24.95 per episode)

Wouldn't it be great if you could eavesdrop on conversations between some of the greatest brain scientists in the world? Now you can, thanks to veteran television journalist Charlie Rose. In his 13-part series on the brain, which premiered in October 2009 and continues through November 2010, Rose and his co-host, Nobel laureate Eric R. Kandel, along with esteemed neuroscientists, explore a different aspect of the brain in each episode. Recent forays have been into mental illness, anxiety and aging; upcoming topics include decision making and the artistic brain.

Although Rose comes to the table with questions and discussion topics, he is not afraid to let the conversations go in unexpected directions and to touch on contentious topics. In a recent episode, University of Cambridge neuroscientist Daniel Wolpert, a self-described “movement chauvinist,” asserted that “we have a brain for one reason and one reason only, and that is to produce adaptable and complex movement.” Wolpert went on to explain the controversial idea that movement mediates everything important that we do, including all communication. And in an episode dedicated to the emotional brain, Rose diverted a discussion on drug addiction to talk about the burgeoning fields of sex and risk addiction.

The program feels much more like a conversation between enthusiastic intellectuals than a talk show. After watching Rose's episode on the social brain, we understand why the show's intimate format feels so rewarding, too. “Our brains are not calculators, where you punch in a bunch of numbers and you get a number out at the end,” Rockefeller University neurobiologist Cornelia Bargmann explained. “One of the most important things for us is each other.