Learn Neuroscience: How your brain works in six lectures | Andre Klapper, PhD | Skillshare

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Learn Neuroscience: How your brain works in six lectures

teacher avatar Andre Klapper, PhD, Researcher, Neuroscientist, Psychologist

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Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

8 Lessons (45m)
    • 1. Introduction and outline

    • 2. The command center of the brain

    • 3. Hidden everyday functions

    • 4. The two hemispheres

    • 5. Neuroplasticity

    • 6. Imagination in the brain

    • 7. Consciousness and free will

    • 8. Bonus: Do we use only 10% of our brain?

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About This Class

Our brain is arguably the part of our body that defines us most.

And most people have no clue what it is doing.

This course will teach you in a few short and easy lectures how your brain works and what this can teach you about yourself.

Learn about the most mind-blowing insights from neuroscience research and find out about the role of our brain in your personality, abilities, imagination, and consciousness.

What you will learn in this course

·      How the frontal part of your brain affects your personality

·      The hidden everyday functions of your brain

·      The two hemispheres: or how you are actually two people

·      How normal people become superheroes through neuroplasticity

·      Why our brain likes to imagine things and how powerful this ability is

·      Why we may not have free will according to neuroscience research

In short, you will get mind-blowing neuroscience insights and understand the role of our brain in our personality, abilities, imagination, and consciousness in an easy beginner-friendly format. 

Here is a little secret: I wasn't interested in neuroscience from the beginning.

Instead, I started as a psychologist. 

But here is the thing: if you are interested in understanding the human mind then sooner or later this leads you to the brain.

Once I realized how much neuroscience can teach us about ourselves, I was hooked and found myself more and more in this discipline.

I realized that neuroscience is not as complicated as it seems and extremely fascinating.

So in this course, I want to share some of the most mind-blowing neuroscience lessons – including lessons that you cannot find in any other course.

So get started now and get to know your brain.

Lean back and let the lectures take you on a journey through your brain.

And you can ask me any question you have about the brain.

Meet Your Teacher

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Andre Klapper, PhD

Researcher, Neuroscientist, Psychologist


Psychology & Neuroscience researcher with more than 10+ years of training and experience.

Learning how our mind and brain work and conducting research on these topics has been incredibly fascinating for me and it definitely enriched my life.

My mission is to share my experience with other people and help them to get the most out of themselves.

I have courses on Psychology, Neuroscience, and research.

Why learn from me?

- 700+ enthusiastic reviews from people all over the world.

- Short and concise lectures - straight to the point without any unnecessary information.

- Simple and easy approach - complex ideas are broken into bite-sized chunks.

- Quality content. PhD, 10+ years of training and experience, scientific publica... See full profile

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1. Introduction and outline: I welcome My name is Andre, and I'm a neuroscientist and psychologist with more than 10 years of experience in these fields. And in this course I will show you how our brain works and what newer science can teach you about yourself. It is a short and dance course that I created for people who are interested in getting to know themselves on the level of the brain and want to get straight to the most insightful, newer science lessons. So what exactly will you learn in this course? First, I will introduce you to the command center of the brain, and you will see that the command center is very important for determining who we are and that it is necessary for us to be a good person. Next, you will learn about many off the basic functions that our brains for filling for us and discover how much our brain is doing for us at any moment. Then I will show you the two hemispheres of the brain, and you will see that our body is literally controlled by two minds. Next, I will teach you about the neuro plasticity of the brain, which is the brain's ability to reorganize itself, and this is important for understanding how much we can improve and what our hidden potentials. Then I will show you how and why the brain uses imagination. For some reason, we have this profound ability to daydream and waste our time with our imagination. But the truth is that our imagination is central to how our brain works and that it fulfilled several important functions for us. Finally, I will show you the role of consciousness in our brain, and you will see that our consciousness may not be as much in charge in our brain as we like to think. Ensure there's a lot for you to learn. And I designed this course there will take you only a few lectures to learn it. So all that's left to do for you is to get started and get to know your brain 2. The command center of the brain: Welcome to the first lecture off this course in this lecture, I'm going to introduce you to the command center of the brain, and I'm gonna show you what exactly the command center is doing in our brain and how it contributes to our personality. And to do that I want to introduce you to a man named Phineas Gage who had an accident that completely changed his personality. So this is Phineas Gage. And as you can see here, he is lacking the left eye. And that is because this poll he's holding here was propelled into his hat by an explosion on the poor. Effectively destroyed a part of his brain. And that changed him. So let's have a look at how we change. Let's have a look at how people describe him before and after the accident. Before the accident, he was described as intelligent, hard working, responsible, and he was generally respected. But that changed after the accident. After the accident, he was quite remarkably still, very intelligent. But his personality did change After the accident. He was described as indulging, obstinate, disrespectful and impatient, and actually, his friends who knew him very well, said that he's no longer Gage. He's not the same person anymore. So something in his brain got destroyed. That is very important for his personality and especially for him to be what we would call a good person. So what part of his brain got destroyed here? You can see where the pole hit his brain. The pool actually entered his skull through his mouth, and from there it crushed through the frontal part of the brain. Another big question is what function of his brain got impaired by that. And to understand that, let's have a look at the general anatomy of the brain. What you see here is a cross section of the brain that shows you what the brain would look like if it would cut through it through the middle of our eyes. And what you can see here is that in the middle there's this core and wrapped around that There's another part of the brain and the brain areas in this court called the sub cortical areas of the brain, and these areas are responsible for the most basic functions of her brain. They're responsible for our sleep. They're responsible for hunger. They're responsible for emotions and they're responsible for our habits and wrapped around the sub cortical areas is the so called cortex. So as we could say, the cortical areas and those areas are responsible for higher functions, they're responsible for our attention. They're responsible for our planning, and they're responsible for more complex actions that are not so habitual now. The thing is that what the sub cortical areas may be doing, and what the cortical areas may be doing can be in conflict with each other. Sometimes we want to pay attention even though we're sleepy. Sometimes we're planning to work, but we're actually hungry and we want to stop. Or sometimes we need to do something that we aren't used to, such as sleeping at an unusual time or working at an unusual time. And then we have to work against our habits. So the sub cortical areas on the cortical areas do not always work together, and therefore we need a mediator, and that mediator is the frontal. Part of the cortex is the most frontal cortical area, and therefore this area is called the prefrontal cortex, and the prefrontal cortex is involved in what is called executive control is basically the command center of our brain. If you think of the brain as a spaceship than the prefrontal cortex would be the bridge and one of the most central key aspects of executive control is to inhibit our impulses. Think, for example, of the situation when you're on a diet and you need to inhibit the impulse to eat, you need to inhibit your cravings or when you're tired and you really need to work and you need to force yourself to work, you need to inhibit the impulse to rest or get distracted by something that would be much more fun to do. And executive control is also necessary for holding our attention. Right now you're holding your attention on my voice, but I'm pretty sure that in your environment there are things that are distracting you. There may be noises. There may be things going on around you, and in order to prevent that, your attention gets drawn away from me. You need to exert executive control. You need to inhibit the distractions and two things that executive control does for us in our everyday life. Our first, it keeps us focused on our goals for example, our goal. To diet or to work, And second, it enables us to look beyond our own needs and desires. For example, it enables us to share something nice, such as a cake, for example, rather than just having it for ourselves and a good example. What happens without executive control is Fini s Cage. Because he was unable to inhibit his impulses, he became indulging. He became obstinate and disrespectful because he could not adjust his behaviour enoughto other people's opinions and feelings. And he became impatient because every impulse had to be fault immediately, he could not wait for anything. So, as you can see, our ability to exert executive control in our prefrontal cortex is really important for determining who we are, and it is necessary for us to be a good person. All right, that was the lecture on the command center of the brain. And in the next lecture, we're going to zoom out a little bit and have a look at the everyday functions that our brain is engaging in all the time without us realizing it 3. Hidden everyday functions: Welcome to the second lecture off this course in this lecture, I'm going to introduce you to some hidden everyday functions that our brain is engaging in all the time without us realizing it. And to do that, we're gonna have another look at the brain from the side. But this time we're not gonna look at a cross section, so not at the inside of the brain. But we're going to look at the outside of the brain. So in the words you learned in the last lecture, we're not going to look at the sub cortical areas. But we're gonna look at the cortical areas. And as a rule of thumb, the front of the cortex is mainly concerned with controlling our actions, while the back of the cortex is mainly concerned with our perception. And in this lecture, I'm going to illustrate that to you by showing you some off the functions that you find if you go from the front of the cortex to the back of the cortex and in the last lecture already showed you what's going on in the very front of the brain, which is executive control and executive control, is really important for controlling are very complex. Actions are planned actions and our non habitual actions. But what functions do we find if we move more to the back off the brain? Well, if we move a step further, then one of the next things we find is motor planning. And most of planning is basically about making sure that our actions make sense and actually have the effect that they're supposed to have. So let's take archery as an example. In order to shoot an arrow, we need to drawing arrow, position it on the rope, pull, hold, aim and release. And we need to do all these things in that exact order. If we change the order of the steps anywhere, the arrow will not fly. Or if we get the timing of thes steps wrong. For example, if we pull before the error is fully positioned on the robe, or if we release before we're fully pulled, Then again, the error will not fly in the way it's supposed to fly. And much of planning is about making sure that all these things were happening in the right order and with the right timing. Okay, I want to show you another example, which is a little bit more subtle. But it's also something we encounter more frequently in our everyday life, and that is the challenge off holding a cup. When you hold such a cup, you need to exert exactly the right amount of strength. If you squeeze your fingers too hard, will crush the cup. If on the other, and you don't squeeze hard enough, the cup will fall three of fingers, so you need to exert exactly the right amount of force. And to make it even more difficult, that amount of force changes all the time. Asked, The cup gets more and more empty, so a lot of the things we do seemingly without thinking about it actually require a lot of thinking and planning. And that planning is done unconsciously. Bar brain in a process called motor planning. All right, let's move one step further to the right, one of the next functions we confined. His recognition recognition is basically about determining what we're seeing right now or who we're seeing. For example, it's about determining that you're looking at a brain right now or the word recognition, and that's not quite the same as perception, because in order to recognize something, we already need to know it. We need to have encountered it in the past. So in other words, we need to have a memory of it. And recognition is about connecting what you see to your memory of that very same thing. And if the brain areas that are responsible for recognition get destroyed in some way, then it can happen that people are still able to perceive. So if they look at this hammer, for example, they're still able to say that there's the wooden handle and there's an Iran part and they can say that one side is pointy and the other is flats. But they're not able to say that this is a hammer because even though they can still perceive, they aren't able to connect what they perceived to their knowledge in their memory. Likewise, if more specific areas get impaired, then it can happen that people can still recognize objects. But they cannot recognize people anymore, so they're not able to say that for example, this person is Barack Obama, even though they're still able to describe that person, and they generally can still see what the person looks like, but they're not able to connect what they're seeing to their memory off Barack Obama. So that is what recognition is in recognition is a process that lies at the intersection between memory and perception. Now let's have a look. What happens if we go one step further? If we go to the very back of the brain than one of the functions that we confined, there is motion perception. There's actually a whole brain area in our cortex, a cortical area that is responsible for detecting when something moves, and that might seem trivial at first sight. But actually, one of the problems is that we're moving all the time. We're moving or hat, and as a result things are moving in our eyes and so are rain needs to constantly take into account which movements are caused by us and which movements actually reflect a movement outside in the world. And if people get damaged to this area that it can actually happen, that people are not able to perceive movements anymore, and then essentially what these people are seeing is the world as you see it. For example, in a disco with flashing light. Rather than seeing people making smooth movements that gradually transition into each other . They see the world jumping from one state to the next state. For example, they might see the arm of a person jumping from one position to another position. So it's very similar to what you see if you're in a disco in the light of flashing, and you see people kind of jumping from one dance position to the next, rather than smoothly moving from one position to the other. So as you can see, there's a lot going on in our cortex, and these are just examples. And the main thing I wanted to show you is that the cortex moves from action to perception as you move from the frontal part of the cortex to the back of the cortex. All right, that was the lecture on the hidden everyday functions, and you may have realized during this lecture that we have always been looking at the brain from one side from the left side, and you may be wondering what's going on on the other side. What's going on on the right side, and that's what I'm going to show you in the next lecture. In the next election, we're gonna look at the two hemispheres of the brain, which are the left side of the cortex and the right side of the cortex. 4. The two hemispheres: welcome to the third lecture in this lecture, we're going to look at the two hemispheres of the brain. So first of all, want out of the two hemispheres. In the last lecture, we had a look at the cortex of the brain and so that they a lot of hidden everyday functions going on in our cortex. And during the whole lecture, we looked at the cortex from the site. And in this lecture, we're gonna look at the cortex from above. And what you see then is that they're two different parts, a left part and a right part. And these two parts are called the two hemispheres off our cortex. And the amazing thing about the two hemispheres is that each hemisphere has all the functions at its disposal that a fully functional mind has. As you're going to see later in this lecture, there are a few differences between the left and the right hemisphere. But each has all the functions at its disposal that it needs to be a fully functional mind . So each atmosphere has executive control. Each hemisphere has motor planning. Each hemisphere has recognition. Each hemisphere has motion perception. Each hemisphere has all functions at its disposal that a fully functional mind has. Which means that in a sense, we have two minds in our brain. But normally these two minds don't work in isolation, but they're connected to each other through the so called corpus callosum and, essentially, the corpus callosum. Make sure that the two minds and our hat work together and become one might. Okay, this thought probably felt a little bit weird. So let's have a look at what this actually means. What does it mean to have two minds in our hat? To understand this better? I want to show you a certain type of patient called split brain patient, and it's literally what it sounds like. A split brain patient is a person for whom the connection between the two hemispheres so the corpus callosum has been cut cutting. The connection between the two hemispheres was done as a treatment in the past for neurological problems, and at first sight. It seemed to be a good thing to do because it did reduce the neurological problems off the patients, and at first sight it didn't seem to have any side effects, but then research has had a closer look at these people in experiments, and then it turned out that something very strange was going on in these people. And I want to show, you know, what happened in these experiments and what it shows about our brain. So here's the general set up of the experiment. The patients and the experiments were watching a screen just like you do right now. And they were instructed to look at a fixation cross that was displayed in the middle off the screen, just like the fixation cross you see in front of you. And then a typical thing that would happen in these experiments is that, for example, on the left side, a word would be displayed, such as the word cat. And then, after this word was displayed on the screen that next, the researcher would ask which word is displayed on the screen. And strangely, the patients said that he didn't see any word, even though the patient wasn't blind. Even though the patient can normally see everything. He said that I couldn't see any word, and it continues. Next, the researcher would ask, Could you write down the word please? And then if the researcher put a pen into the left hand of the patient. Then, quite magically, the patient would suddenly write down the word cat with his left hand. And if the researcher would then ask, Wait a second. Did you see this word on the screen? Then the patient would say, basically no. And he would be very confused. Why? I just wrote down the word cat. So as you can see, something very strange was going on in these experiments is almost as if different parts of the body of the patient knew different things. So what exactly was happening here and there? Three things you need to understand in order to understand what happened in this experiment . Number one. Each atmosphere sees only a part of what we see with our eyes. If we divide what we see with our eyes into the left side and the right side, then the right hemisphere sees only what's going on on the left side, and the Left Hemisphere sees only what's going on on our right side. So it's not that the right hemisphere sees what's going on in our left eye and the right hemisphere. What's going on in our right I. But each hemisphere is access to both eyes, but can only see what is going on either on the left side of our eyes or on the right side of our eyes. And that's the first thing. The second thing is that the two hemispheres also controlled different parts of our body. Our Left Hemisphere controls the right side of our our body while the right hemisphere controls the left side of our body. For example, our left hemisphere controls are right arm while our right hemisphere controls are left out . And that means that everything we're doing with our left hand was controlled by our right hemisphere. Why everything we're doing with our right hand was controlled by the Left Hemisphere. And that's the second thing. There's one more thing. The last thing you need to understand other language abilities of each hemisphere. First, the Left Hemisphere controls our speech, which means that everything that we say with our mouth comes from the Left Hemisphere and in normal people. This doesn't matter so much because the two hemispheres are normally connected. But in split brain patients, it means that if the split brain patient is saying something then the only part of the brain that is talking is the left Hemisphere, Okay, and the second thing that the Left Hemisphere can do is it can understand language. Now. What about the right hemisphere? The right hemisphere cannot control our speech. And in normal people, that doesn't matter so much because the right hemisphere can just tell the Left Hemisphere to say something for it. But in the spirit brain patient, that isn't possible anymore. And as a result, the right hemisphere remains silent. And that means that whatever a split brain patients says does not come from the right hemisphere, the right hemisphere is cut off from our speech. The right hemisphere does understand language, though, so if we ask that hemispheric question, it does understand it. It just can't answer in the form of speech. And that is the third thing that you needed to understand. Now let's have a local was going on in the split brain patient during the experiment, and the first thing you need to understand is that if the patient keeps his eyes fixed on this cross here, then everything that is going on on the left side of the screen is Onley visible to the right hemisphere. And the important thing here is that the right hemisphere, although it understands language, it does not control our speech. And that means that when the right hemisphere sees the word cat, it understands the words. And when the right hemisphere, here's the question. What was displayed on the screen? It understands the question, but it can't answer. So at the moment when the researcher asked what was displayed on the screen, the right hemisphere does nothing, even though it knows the answer. Now, what about the Left Hemisphere? Well, the Left Hemisphere sees only what's going on on the right side of the screen, and it controls the right side of our body, and it controls are a speech, and the last point means that in principle, the Left Hemisphere could give some answer to the question. But the problem is because the Left Hemisphere sees only what's going on here. It hasn't seen the word, and so naturally the answer gives through our speech is I haven't seen any word on the screen, and that's why the patient says that he hasn't seen any word. But what happens if we put a pen into the left hand of a patient and then asked him to write the word down, where the left hand is controlled by the right hemisphere and the right hemisphere has seen the word. And although it cannot speak, it can write the word down with the left hand. And that's why suddenly, magically, the patient rights down the word cat with his left hand. Even though he said he hadn't seen the word next, the researcher asked, Why did you write down that word? And again, the right hemisphere can't answer because it cannot control our speech. Instead, the part of the brain that can answer is the Left Hemisphere and the Left Hemisphere hasn't seen the word cat and therefore has no clue why the left hand just wrote down the word cat . So what is going on here? In essence, once the connection between the two hemispheres was cut, the two hemispheres started to operate as two independent minds, and each of these two hemispheres has control over different parts of our body, and therefore it was literally the case that different parts of the body of the patient knew different things because they were controlled by two different minds, and this is still a relatively mild example. They have also been examples where split brain patients have the problem. That one of their hands, for example, would interfere with what they're doing. And this is called alien hand syndrome is when one of your hands suddenly doesn't do any more what you wanted to do and does something else instead, and maybe even interferes with what you're trying to do. And it's something that can happen if different parts of the brain act independent of each other and then interfere with each other's work. So the main lesson from this research is that actually, we don't have just one mind in our brain, but we have at least two mines. And quite amazingly, once you put these two minds together and connect them through the corpus callosum, they together become you. You are the result of two minds working together as a team. All right, that was the lecture on the two hemispheres of the brain, and if you like, you can see an overview off the abilities off the two hemispheres after this lecturer and then in the next lecture, I'm going to show you the newer plasticity off the brain, which is the ability of the brain to reorganize itself. 5. Neuroplasticity: in this lecture, I want to show you the amazing neuro plasticity of the brain. And again, I would like to start with a question, which is, What do you think you're really capable off? And from a neurological perspective, that is a question of neural plasticity. New place ISTEA is the brain's ability to reorganize itself and for us to learn something new, to learn a new skill or to learn you knowledge. That's what the brain needs to do. It needs to reorganize itself on. A common misconception is that the brain Onley develops at the beginning when we're young. But actually our brain changes and reorganize itself all the time throughout our whole life . For example, if people learning musical instrument than we can see in the brain if we look into the cortex that new connections are made, the cortex actually consists of an outer layer, which is called the Gray Matter, and that outer layer surrounds the so called white matter, and the gray matter contains the connections between nerve cells. While the white matter consists of long extensions off these nerve cells, which are much like cables and what we can see in people who learn a new musical instrument is that their gray matter increases because they make new connections in their brain. And that is one example of neuro plasticity. Another example of taxi drivers. New scientific research has shown that a certain sub cortical area, this one basically the hippocampus, is larger in taxi drivers compared to other people. And research has shown that the hippocampus is involved in our ability to memorize things. And that makes a lot of sense because taxi drivers need to memorize a lot of things. They need to memorize addresses. They need to memorize the quickest routes from one point to another point. So they need to memorize a lot of things. And so it makes a little sense that they're hippocampus is enlarged. And again, this is an example of neural plasticity are being constantly reorganized itself in response to the things we're doing and in response to the task that we need to fulfill in our everyday life. And you can see how far neuro plasticity can go in situations where the brain has to adapt to extreme changes, and an example of that would be if we lose our eye sight. If our eyes somehow get damaged. Then suddenly all the brain areas related to visual perception would become useless. But our brain doesn't waste it's resources. If a brain area becomes useless, it just use it for something else. So if we lose our eyesight than all of visual perception, areas in the brain just get repurpose and start to support other functions which functions they exactly. Support can differ from person to person, but a common example is that the visual areas start to support our hearing so that we can hear better. At this point, I want to ask you, Do you know the superhero daredevil Daredevil is actually a strange superhero because his only power is that he's blind. But fortunately for him, there is near plasticity, and that enabled his brain to reorganize itself so that his hearing became superhuman and his superhuman hearing is so powerful that he can basically see with it. And you might be thinking now, okay, but that's just a fictional character. But the truth is that something quite similar also happens in real life. This guy here is Ben Underwood and Banana, what is actually blind, but you would never guess that he's blind if you saw him in his everyday life, he runs around avoiding obstacles. He jumps on things. He chases his brother. He does all the things normal people do, but he's blind. So what happened is that when he was three years old, his eyes got removed surgically because he had retinal cancer. But unfortunately, his brain adjusted and he learned a completely new ability an ability that we normally don't see in human beings. And that ability is called echolocation. Echolocation is, for example, used by bats. They essentially shout out a high frequency noise, and that noise gets reflected by obstacles such as, for example, pray on the bad. Then here's this reflection, this echo and based on the echo of the back and determine where the prey is and how big the prey is. And essentially, that enables the bad to see through its ears. And Ben Anna would learn this ability that humans are normally not capable off after he got his eye surgically removed. Essentially, what he does is he makes clicking sounds with his mouth. He makes all the time, and he can hear the Akers of thes clicking sounds as they get reflected from, for example, walls or other obstacles or people, and that enables him to see much like the bat us and, of course, the consequences that not only can he see in a way through his ears, but he could also see in the dark So we could say basically that his neuro plasticity gave him superhuman abilities and banana. What is not the only person who has developed echolocation as a new ability there, more blind people who have developed this ability? And there are even some people who train of a blind people in developing echolocation. So what are we really capable off? And the truth is that it's usually more than we think, because our brain has a really amazing ability to reorganize itself, and that enables us to learn things that you would never think a human being could learn. There is a little cash, though, and that is that our newer plasticity is the highest when we have Children, even though our brain reorganizes itself throughout our whole life, it is the most flexible when we're Children, and the consequence of this is that the things we learn as a child, I usually thinks were particularly good at, and a good example is the language we learned when we were a child. Usually the best language we speak is the language we learned as a child and all the other languages or language as we speak with an accent and we understand less well. And that's because our neuro plasticity slowly decreases as we get older. All right, that's the end of the lecture on your plasticity. And in the next lecture, we're going to look at how our brain imagines things. 6. Imagination in the brain: in this lecture, I will show you what brain research can teach us about imagination. And the question I want to start with is why does or by an actually imagine things? What is it good for? That you have the ability to daydream and retract from reality and not do anything productive. Why do we have that ability? And our brain wouldn't have that ability if it wasn't useful in some way. So there has to be an important function of imagination. But what is that function? And to begin with, let's first have a look what imagination actually looks like in the brain. What you can see here is a comparison off the brain activation between when a person actually does something or actually see something compared to when the person just imagines doing something. Or imagine seeing something on. What you consider is that the brain activations are actually very similar to each other. We can see here that during imagination basically roughly the same brain areas of active as during actual performance, there just a few areas missing and generally the activation is a little bit lower. But overall it's really, really similar, so it seems to be the actual performance and imagination are pretty much the same thing in the brain. And that's because when we imagine things, Allah Brain is basically running a simulation. It pretends to be in a surgeon situation without actually being in that situation. For example, it pretends to engage in a certain kind of actions without sending it through to the muscles. And there's several reasons why that can be useful. And one reason is that it helps us with planning imagination conscious or unconscious. Imagination basically helps us to figure out what would happen if it would engage in a certain sequence of actions. It's actually a lot like planning the route of a road trip on a map. You can see what would happen if you go in this direction, or you can see what would happen if you go in that direction. And that is incredibly useful, because in our imagination we don't actually have to suffer the consequences of our actions . Much like we don't have to suffer the consequences off going into the wrong direction. When were just planning the road trip and that is the first reason why our brain imagines things. It helps our brain to plan our actions and to predict the outcomes of our actions. But there's another reason. When we looked at the picture off the brain activations, I said that it's almost as if the brain is pretending to do something on another situation where people or animals are pretending to do something is when they're playing. For example, when young lions are playing, they open pretend that they're fighting with each other and they're not actually fighting with each other, so they don't hurt each other. But they pretend to, and as a result of this, pretending they do actually practice fighting. And they achieve that without taking the risk of getting hurt or even get killed in a fight . So playing provides them with a safe environment in which they can learn without having to suffer from the consequences off their mistakes. And that's something that lines, too. And it's also something that human beings, too young Children and sometimes also grown ups love to play. And that is actually a good thing because that helps them to develop their skills in a safe environment where the consequence off their mistakes are not so bad and that's actually much like a simulation. When a person wants to learn, for example, how to fly an airplane, then it would really not be a good idea to put that person immediately into an actual airplane. So a much better way to learn how to fly is to put the person into a simulation where the person can still practice how to fly but doesn't face any serious consequences when he makes a mistake. And that is exactly what imagination is to us. Imagination is a simulation in which we can develop our skills without having to face the consequences that we would face if you would actually be in the situation that we're imagining. And if that is true, then we would expect that just imagining something should enable you to get better at something. So in theory, if, for example, you spend enough time imagining yourself skateboarding, you should get better s skateboarding without having actually done it. So does that happen? Do you get better at something just because you imagine it? And the answer from research is a definite yes. There have been many studies where in one group, people did nothing while in the second group. People just imagine practicing something, and in the third group they actually practice it. And the usual finding is that both of people who just imagine and the people who actually do it get better. And they have even been studies where there was no difference between the group that was imagining and the group that was actually doing it. So imagination can be a really powerful way to get better at something and to develop our skills without having to face the consequences that we would otherwise face. And that is the second reason why our brain imagines things. It creates a simulation in which it can practice safely for real life. So imagination actually serves some very important functions and the general stick Mother, When you're day dreaming that you're wasting your time, that is not necessarily true. Even when you just imagine things that can be a very productive time for you. It can be the time in which he create great plans for the future. Or it can be the time in which you practice something safely in your mind until you're ready for the real world. Okay, that was the lecture on imagination. And in the next lecture, we're gonna look at consciousness and free will 7. Consciousness and free will: in this lecture, I'm going to show you what brain wizards can teach us about consciousness and free will. And essentially, the question we're gonna tackle is is our consciousness in control or, as some people put it, do we have free will And to shed some light on to this, I want to show you a very famous experiment. And here's the general set up of the experiment. The participant was wearing a hat full of electrodes, which made it possible to measure the brain activity while the participant is doing the experiment. And the task of the participant was really simple, pretty much as simple as it can get, because all he had to do was at any moment to just lived his finger. And there was no rule when he should do that. He was instructed to just sit there, decide when he wants to lift his finger and once he has decided to do so to lift his finger . And while he was doing that, he had to look at a kind of a clock where a dog was moving in circles all the time and all he had to do with that club wants to remember at which location the dot waas when he made the decision to live his finger and at the same time his hand was also attached to a couple of electrodes, which made it possible to measure the exact moment at which he lifted his finger. And essentially three things were measured here first the time of the movement, the moment when the finger was lifted second the time when he made the decision to live his finger. And that was measured through the clock by the location off the dot on the clock when he made the decision to move. And finally, the third thing that was measured was the moment at which the brain initiated the movement off the finger. So it was the timing off the brain activity in the motor area that controls the finger on. Before I show you the result, let's first talk about what you would expect to happen in this experiment. If we draw a time access, then we would expect that first the participant decides to live his finger. Next, there should be motor activity in the brain to initiate the movement off the finger, and finally the finger should be lifted. That is what at the time, everybody expected to happen. But that's not what happened. Instead, the timing off these three things were a little bit different. The motor activity happened before the participant decided to lift his finger. So in other words, what this means is that when the participant decided to lift his finger, it was already decided his brain was already sending the command down to the finger. So it was already determined that the finger would be lifted. And that raises the question whether the decision to lift a finger actually crossed the finger to lived or whether there was already decided before by unconscious processes in the brain and the time between the motor activity in the brain and the decision to live the finger was actually half a second, which is very long for a neurological process. So it seems as if long before the participant consciously decided to live the finger, it was already unconsciously decided by his brain. And that was the question. Is our feeling that we have free will and that were controlling our actions just an illusion, and it seems to be like a crazy idea at first But the truth is that there is actually a lot of near scientific research which points into that direction. Let me give you an example. One of the puzzling findings is that even in situations where it's clear that people don't know why they're doing what they're doing, they often seem to think they know, even though clearly they don't. For example, I showed you at the beginning that in this situation of split brain patients, some of their body parts do things off which they don't know why. And that's because the two hemispheres in their brain have stopped communicating, and so they don't understand each other's actions. Now you would think that therefore, in this situation, the participant will often say, I don't know why I just did that. But in reality, what happens is that even though we know that the participant doesn't know why his hand, for example, did something, he just comes up with some reason and still has the feeding that he's controlling this action. And so what seems to be the case is that we have this tendency towards having this illusion off control this illusion, that we're controlling our own actions and What this tells us is that if we don't have free will, we probably wouldn't notice it. Because we have this illusion of control. We don't notice when we're not in control. Okay? There's one more argument that I would like to share with you that made we such as question to what degree we have free will. And that argument has to do with the speed off consciousness. Let me give you an example and show you what I mean. Suppose that this person gets pinched in the arm. Then what needs to happen before the person can consciously experience the pinch is the information has to travel up to the brain. And at that moment, the person will feel Ouch. I got pinched. And what you have to realize is that this takes time, so there will be some delay between the pinch and the information become unconscious in the brain. Now suppose that the person would get pinched into the lech. In that case, the information has to travel all the way up to the brain, which means that there will be even more delay between the pinch and the information arriving in the brain and now it comes, suppose that the person would get pinched into the arm and at the same time, into the leg. Now the question is what that person experienced the two pinches simultaneously, or what the person experienced the pinch at the arm first, because that information arrives of the brain faster. And the answer is, of course, that the person will experience the pinches as simultaneous, even though the brain should ever received the two types of information one after another. So how is that possible? And essentially what our brain does all the time? Is it correct for the processing time it needs to make something conscious, And then it just makes us believe that we already experienced the thing at the time the event occurred, even though our consciousness is actually constantly lagging behind the events. So in other words, even though your brain receives the information about the pinches after some delay, your brain makes you believe that you already have the information when the pinch occurred , and that's why you experienced the pinches at the same time. And if we use that information to explain what happened in the experiment I showed you before, then a possible explanation. Is this one? Maybe the reason why it fell to the participant, that the decision to lift a finger occurred before the movement was initiated was not because he made that decision before the movement was initiated, but because his brain made him believe that the decision occurred earlier than it actually occurred. So do we have free will? Is our consciousness in control in our body? Truth be told, it's an open debate, and the debate is still going on. But what I wanted to share with you in this lecture is that there actually is a debate, because there are a number of reasons why we may not be asked much in control, as we tend to think. And those reasons are the findings that are being sometimes initiates our actions before we make the conscious decision to do it. Second, the tendency of people to have an illusion of control to think that we know what we did something, even though we actually don't and third the fact that our consciousness is constantly lagging behind reality without realizing it 8. Bonus: Do we use only 10% of our brain?: welcome to a bonus lecture of this course and in this lecture want to tackle the question with you? Do we use only 10% of our brain? This idea has been spreading around for quite some time. But is it actually true? Do we use only 10% of our brain? And a tricky aspect of this question is that he can interpret it in several ways, and I want to start with the easiest interpretation. And the easiest interpretation is that if we use only 10% of our brain than the other, 90% are never used. So is that true? Are there only 10% of our brain that we ever use? And you pretty much already know the answer. Based on what you've learned in this course, during this course, we had a look at what the core of our brain is doing and what the outer layer of the cortex is doing. We also had a look at some off the main functions off the cortex, and we saw that the functions are roughly the same for the two hemispheres. And essentially, the point I want to make here is that that covers already more than 10% of our brain. So it's definitely not true that 90% of our brain are never used. But there's another interpretation off the myth that we use only 10% of our brain, and that is that at any given moment we only use 10% of our brain. So, for example, when I'm reading that, I'm using the 10% that is responsible for reading. And when I'm playing soccer, I used the 10% that is responsible for soccer, and when I'm playing guitar, I used the 10% that is responsible for playing the guitar. So the claim would be that at any moment I use only 10% of my brain. But where the 10% are differs from moment to moment. And this idea most likely came from brain imaging pictures such as, for example, this one. And what you see here in this picture, seemingly is that only this little area here in the brain seems to be active, while all the rest of the brain seems to be inactive. So it looks as if only a really small percentage of the brain is utilized at that moment, and by the way the task the owner of this brain was doing was to compare words. So he saw two words, and his task was to decide whether the towards are the same word or two different words. And if you compare the activation off the location to the map I gave you earlier than you can see that it's basically roughly in the recognition area, which makes a lot of sense because in order to compare words, you need to recognize what the words actually are. And based on this brain imaging picture, you could think that the only area in the brain that is active at this very moment in this word comparison task is this little area. Now the question is, Is that actually true? Is it true that only this little area is active at that very moment? And to answer this question, I want to use our body as an analogy. So let's have a look at this guy here and ask how much of his body is he using in the task that he's doing right now? And one could think that he's basically just using his hat. He's using his hand to press the keys and used the track pad and the rest of his body is pretty much doing nothing. But strictly speaking, that is not true. While he's sitting there, muscles in his whole body are participating to keep him in the position He is right now, for example. His neck muscles are holding his neck. His back muscles are holding his upper body upright. And actually, whenever he moves his arm, his muscles need to counter act the movement to keep the balance. His arm could not move steadily if the muscles in the rest of his body wouldn't keep him stabilized. So, strictly speaking, while we see only the hand moving, his whole body is participating in what he's doing right now. And the same logic applies to his brain. Let's say that this guy is now engaging in the world comparison task that I described to you earlier. In that situation, the word recognition area of the brain will be relatively active, but that doesn't mean that the other areas air inactive. He actually needs all the areas that are shown here. In order to do the task, he needs executive control to focus his attention on the screen he needs mortar planning to hit the right keys in the right order. He needs recognition to realize that he's looking at a laptop and to understand what is going on on the screen off a laptop. And he needs motion perception to track that his hands are doing what he actually wants them to do. So even in this very mundane task, all brain areas are active there, just not all active to the same degree. So when we look at a brain imaging pictures such as this one, then it is very tempting to think that the interpretation of this image is that Onley this brain area is active. But that's actually an incorrect interpretation. The correct interpretation is that this brain area is more active than it usually. Yes, The gray areas, on the other hand, are also active but not more active than they usually are there at baseline activity. So even on this image here, all brain areas are active there, just on all active to the same degree. So is it true that we use only 10% of our brain at a given moment? And the answer is absolutely not pretty much at every moment. Our whole brain is active. It's just that at some moments, some areas are more active than they usually are. And that's what we see when we look at brain imaging pictures. All right, that was the bonus lecture. I hope you found it interesting. And I hope you feel that it gave you an even better understanding off the brain.