The Tell-Tale Brain

In conversation with Margaret Wertheim
Thursday, January 20, 2011
Episode Summary
From autism to basic self-awareness, \"the Marco Polo of neuroscience\" traces the strange links between neurology and behavior, probing the mystery of human uniqueness.

Participant(s) Bio
V.S. Ramachandran, dubbed the "Marco Polo of neuroscience" by Richard Dawkins, reveals what baffling and extreme neurological case studies can teach us about normal brain function and how it evolved. Synesthesia becomes a window into the brain mechanisms that make some of us more creative than others. And autism-for which he opens a new direction for treatment-gives us a glimpse of the aspect of being human that we understand least: self-awareness. Ramachandran is the director of the Center for Brain and Cognition and a professor with the Psychology Department and Neurosciences Program at the University of California, San Diego.

Margaret Wertheim is a science writer and the author of books on the cultural history of physics, including Pythagoras' Trousers, a history of the relationship between physics and religion in Western culture, and The Pearly Gates of Cyberspace: A History of Space from Dante to the Internet. From 2001-2005 Wertheim wrote the "Quark Soup" column for the LA Weekly and is currently a contributor to the New York Times and Los Angeles Times. In 2003, she and her twin sister Christine Wertheim founded the Institute for Figuring, an organization based in Los Angeles that promotes the public understanding of the poetic and aesthetic dimensions of science and mathematics.