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Out of control?

  • Nobre, Kia.
  • Videos

About this work


Are we in control of what we do or are most of our actions and decisions controlled by our unconscious mind? How wide is the gap between what you think you do and what you really do? Beginning with Kia Nobre's research into how much information we can take in from the snapshot of a single glance, this programme shows how scientists believe that the role played by our conscious mind is much smaller than was previously thought. Far more of what we do in our daily lives is under the control of the unconscious. This then raises the question - are we in control of your unconscious or is it in control of us? Nigel Franks demonstrates his work to track ant decision making and Tali Sharot talks about how negative information is generally filtered out by the human brain. GY is clinically blind but can detect the direction of motion of something in his blind field - this is known as blind sight and is most likely a sign that he has retained a primary sense of sudden movement which has been vital throughout evolution in terms of survival. Julien Doyon is studying women knitting as a means of working out which part of the brain takes over the control of automatic movements. He scans the brain of experienced knitter, Rhonda, doing an automatic knitting style and then doing a type of knitting she's never done before thus revealing her brain activity during the process of learning a skill. This ability to learn and change neuronal pathways is known as neuronal plasticity. Charles Adler is studying what causes the 'yips' that can cause an uncontrollable twitch in golfers at the crucial moment they hit the ball; he experiments on golfer Tom Wilcox. Professional guitarist Douglas Rogers' career was derailed when he developed hand distonia, leading to uncontrollable hand movements. Mark Edwards attempts to correct this by inducing plasticity in his brain, returning it to the state his brain was in when he first learned to play. Paul Sajda discusses neural signatures - which things grab our attention and which are channelled out of consciousness by the conscious mind.


UK : BBC 2, 2012.

Physical description

1 DVD (60 min.) : sound, color, PAL.


Broadcast on 13 March, 2012.

Creator/production credits

Narrated by Hugo Speer. Written and directed by Ben Lawrie.

Copyright note




  • English

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