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The brain with David Eagleman. 2, What makes me me?

  • Eagleman, David
  • Videos

About this work


Episode Two - What Makes Me Me? This episode explores how the brain plays a part in constructing who we are. Presenter Dr David Eagleman starts by comparing the development of the human brain at birth to other mammals. He explains how experience and interaction with the environment play a role in the wiring-up of brain circuitry. He then introduces an American family, whose three adult siblings were adopted from a Romanian orphanage during the fall of the rule of Nicolae Ceaușescu. Professor Charles A. Nelson describes the neglectful conditions seen in Romanian orphanages during this time, and discusses how conditions such as these could impact the physical structure of a child’s developing brain. The three American-Romanian orphans recount their early experiences in the orphanage. Eagleman goes on to explore the teenage brain. He and graduate student Ricky Savjani perform an experiment comparing stress levels in adults and adolescents. Eagleman explains the role of the medial prefrontal cortex. Training Master Derek O’Reilly explains how trainee London black cab drivers study for The Knowledge. Eagleman explains a scientific study performed on those studying to pass The Knowledge, involving taking brain scans of the participants’ posterior hippocampuses. He briefly mentions examinations of Albert Einstein’s brain after death. Eagleman then recounts the story of Charles Whitman, who shot dead thirteen people in 1966, ostensibly due to a brain tumour pressing on his amygdala. He goes on to explain how memories are formed, and the role they play in constructing human identity. He meets Professor Elizabeth Loftus, who recounts details of a groundbreaking experiment she conducted on the reliability of memories, in which the participants successfully adopted - and embellished upon - false memories. Audio clips are played of interviews with Henry Molaison, who underwent surgery to remove his hippocampus due to severe epilepsy. Professor Suzanne Corkin recounts how the surgery left Molaison without the ability to form memories. Eagleman visits nuns taking part in a research study conducted by Professor David Bennett, exploring the effects of ageing on the brain. Eagleman and Bennett explore the links in the initial study’s results between the ageing brain and Alzheimer’s Disease. Eagleman explains cognitive reserve. He then explores how the physical matter of the brain converts itself into consciousness, by performing an experiment wearing an electroencephalogram (EEG) whilst asleep. He ends by discussing how the brain creates and perceives meaning.



Physical description

1 DVD (60 min.) : sound, colour ; 12 cm


Originally broadcast on 28th January 2016 on BBC 4.
A six part series in which David Eagleman explores how the brain takes in information and uses it to construct human concepts, such as personality and reality.

Creator/production credits

Directed by Johanna Woolford Gibbon and Catherine Gale.
Written and presented by David Eagleman.

Copyright note

Blink Films for PBS in association with BBC.



  • English

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