Thursday, February 16, 2012

Your Brain = Awesome!

National Geographic is very popular at our house. Though we don't currently subscribe to any of their magazines, we have over the years spent time subscribing to three of them. The standard version, the kids' version and Nat. Geo. Explorer, which was our favorite. We also really liked the National Geographic channel when we had it on satellite a few years ago. They are a trusted source for educational, informational programming and their new DVD release, "Brain Games" lives up to their reputation.

The show is broken into three episodes. The first, titled "Watch This" features optical illusions, challenges and tricks that illustrate how single-focus our brains really are. Even those who think they are great at multi-tasking are really only able to focus their attention on one task at a time. I loved the scenes featuring sleight-of-hand illusionist Apollo Robbins- it's amazing what we don't notice! This was my favorite of all the episodes, though it is frustrating to try and grasp why two squares of the same shade of gray look totally different just because of the shading at the crease. I know they're the same color, why does my brain still tell me they aren't? Weird stuff.

The second episode is called "Pay Attention". The website tag for this episode says, "When it comes to mastering — and manipulating — attention, some of the world's leading experts aren't scientists; they're magicians." I may be mixing up the episodes, but I think this one had sensory cues that the brain understands, including sounds made by foley artists.

The best episodes are the two on the first disk. The third episode, "Remember This!" slowed the pace and the focus wasn't as interesting to my family, though some of that may be due to the fact that we had already watched two hours on the first disk and our own brains were just... done by the time we watched the third. In it, there is a staged crime, witnessed by 8 or 10 people, all of whom have different memories of what happened, and much of the episode is spent discussing it. I was surprised to learn how unreliable eyewitness reports really are, but it was long and boring and I lost interest by the end.

It's worth checking out, and though you may have seen some of these "games" before, you will likely learn something new as well! Oh, and it's narrated by Neil Patrick Harris, so that's pleasant as well!

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