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The Secret Life of the Brain
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58 of 59 people found the following review helpful
on October 30, 2004
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
Yes, yes, of course, you would learn much more about the brain by reading great books by neuroscientists--try Joseph LeDoux and Antonio Damasio, for instance. And, no, this isn't a deep and thorough scientific look at the inner space of the brain. But who cares? It's all worth it to see these amazing scientists speak with great enthusiasm about the brain--it's capacity and plasticity and vulnerability, as well as what happens when something goes wrong. I show bits of this to students in corporate courses about emotional intelligence and it's just a heck of a lot better than any lecture I could cook up or some powerpoint presentation on the topic. The graphics are great, and the human stories of brain disorders, while sad (and frankly a little tiring to watch over and over), nevertheless work to give the series emotional impact of its own. Students keep watching to see what will happen next, and the stories give staying power to the learning points. I think this is a must for 30 and 40-somethings, because it gives us a view into the baby's brain, the child's brain, the teenage brain, the adult brain, and the aging brain. If you are interested in any of these disorders or conditions, you'll find something useful in this video set: premature birth, language and learning disorders, schizophrenia, addiction, depression, post-traumatic stress, brain damage from stroke, alzheimer's.
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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on May 2, 2003
Format: DVD
I found this to be an excellent DVD set. I checked it out from the public library and liked it so much that I purchased it. I used this DVD along with Synaptic Self to write a speech for speech class. I wrote almost the entire speech with just these two sources. The amount of info in the DVDs is amazing. It was especially interesting to learn that we have over one trillion neurons in our brain. The video is more than facts however. They go into the lives of many people with different neurological conditions. One example is the neurological affects on a preemies brain. They look into whether it is a result of the child being born with such an underdeveloped brain or if it is the result of all the noise in the newborn intensive care unit. Although more research is needed the study performed shows that the research is promising. In seeing real life stories one isn't filled with just technical info but real world info. It allows one to see what happens to some of our fellow species and how different things affect the brain. I would recommend this DVD to anyone wants to learn more about the brain and it's affects on individuals. I would also highly recommend Synaptic Self by Joseph Ledoux.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
Format: VHS TapeVerified Purchase
This series from PBS is an excellent, accessible introduction to developmental neuroscience. It was developed for a lay audience, but professionals will also find the information and the visuals of great interest. I have been using excerpts from this series in professional trainings since the series was first broadcast in 2001 to the applause and appreciation of all of my students. My family and friends are also raving about this series. If you are professionally or personally interested in psychology, neuroscience, and development you will not be dissappointed.
-- Babette Rothschild, MSW
author, The Body Remembers: The Psychophysiology of Trauma and Trauma Treatment
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
The focus of this TV series is on brain disorders, on how different malfunctions, diseases or abuses of brain manifest in the brain. The issues covered range from premature birth, where the brain didn't have yet chance to fully develop, through drug abuse in teenagers, schnizophrenia, seizures, strokes, parkinson's, alzheimer's and natural aging.

I suppose since this series is partly finances by pharmaceutical industry and companies involved in furthering of medical technology, here these companies play Gods and the solutions often involved drugging the person and when that doesn't work taking half of the brain out - as in the part of the episodes related to seizures, which starts to resemble something taking out of X-files. Throughout the episodes, human beings play the role of guinea pigs, sometimes voluntarily, sometimes involuntarily. The messages that runs as an undercurrent in these episodes is for the most part that people are helpless, drugs are the answer and if drugs cannot help them, nothing can. Part of it is almost like a commercial for drugs.

There is a woman who suffered from depression, until she started taking Prozac, at which point she started to have a productive and reasonably well-adjusted life. There was just a little problem that the dose of the drug she was taking over the past decade has increased eightfold because it just doesn't have the same effect any more.

It's only at the end of the movie, when a couple of people who are over 90 years old and whose brains seem to be working better then people half their age that we see that human beings are not exactly helpless over what happens with their brains, that keeping oneself active mentally and physically and having the desire and the will to live productive life makes a huge difference. In this series that was almost mentioned just like an after-thought. And there were people involved in pharmaceutical industry working hard on trying to discover drugs that can possibly replace the mental and physical activity i.e. they are studying people who are actually taking active care in their mental and physical lives, in an attempt to reproduce drugs that would bring about the same effects in those who may prefer just popping a pill than exercising their minds and bodies. There is certain economy present all across the nature, which we often refer to as "use it or lose it" and this is present when it comes to our mental and physical abilities and when it comes to neurons and neural connections - if you keep on using you mind, your body, learning new things and developing new abilities, your brain will keep on functioning great, if you stop developing your brain through new learnings, parts of your brain being to shut off from lack of use.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on March 4, 2003
Format: VHS Tape
PBS has done it again. Excellent videos (five total). Telling about the workings of the Baby, Child, Teen, Adult and then aging brain and the wonders of each age group.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
This series from PBS is an excellent, accessible introduction to developmental neuroscience. It was developed for a lay audience, but professionals will also find the information and the visuals of great interest. I have been using excerpts from this series in professional trainings since the series was first broadcast in 2001 to the applause and appreciation of all of my students. My family and friends are also raving about this series. If you are professionally or personally interested in psychology, neuroscience, and development you will not be dissappointed.
-- Babette Rothschild, MSW
author, The Body Remembers: The Psychophysiology of Trauma and Trauma Treatment
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on April 21, 2003
Format: VHS Tape
I have watched 4 of these cassettes and I am again amazed at the complexity and organization of a human's headquarters. Every knowledge we have about brain is gained through practical tests and we see a lot of such physology related tests in these videos. They give insight to how neurologist work with brain to understand it. I especially liked the second video telling the story of language learning.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 14, 2010
Format: DVD
This documentary is simply fantastic. There is no other similar to it. Worth buy it, because it is so informative and beautiful in the same time. I have learned a lot about the human brain with this fascinating five-episodes documentary. Believe me, if you buy this, you will never regret it. You can learn a lot too on the web site: [...]
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 26, 2009
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
I first watched these videos in a college anatomy and physiology class. I was so intrigued by the interesting and touching way that they brought forth the information that I needed to own it myself. I watch the videos at least once or twice a month and they always bring new information. Never call documentaries boring again!
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on December 22, 2014
Format: DVD
XXXXX

What is the brain? It's that part of the central nervous system encased within the skull.

This series explores the new map of nature's most complicated organ that has emerged from modern neuroscience.

There are five parts to this documentary:

(1) The baby's brain (49 min, 30 sec)
(2) The child's brain (51 min)
(3) The teenage brain (51 min, 30 sec)
(4) The adult brain (51 min)
(5) The aging brain (52 min)

The way this program proceeds (and the way medicine proceed generally) is to investigate what goes wrong with the brain at each of these stages of human life. Thus, the viewer learns about such things as premature babies, dyslexia, schizophrenia, addiction, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, paralysis, Parkinson's disease, and Alzheimer's disease.

This five-episode documentary gets its information across through a mixture of personal histories, expert commentary, and excellent animation.

As you can imagination, a documentary on the brain can be quite complicated. What this documentary does is to give the most important information while concentrating on personal histories. The result? The viewer never feels bogged down with technical jargon and gets to focus on the personal histories (which I found to be quite interesting and absorbing).

Note that there are no subtitles but there is closed-captioning.

Finally the DVD set (released in 2002) has one extra: an interview with the director.

In conclusion, this documentary proves that you don't have to be a "brain" to understand the brain!!!

(2001; 4 hours, 15 min excluding end material and end credits; 5 episodes; 7 chapters per episode; 3 discs; wide screen, PBS)

<<Stephen PLETKO, London, Ontario, Canada>>

XXXXX
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