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NOVA: Secrets of the Mind

4.5 out of 5 stars 42 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

In this remarkable NOVA, pioneering brain detective V.S. Ramachandran, hailed as ""the Sherlock Holmes of neuroscience,"" tackles four mysterious cases and delivers mind-boggling conclusions. Investigate his breakthrough research in phantom limb syndrome, and how he discovered how the brain undergoes a massive ""re-wiring"" when a person loses a limb. And, discover how findings learned from brain injuries help us learn about the normal brain.

Special Features

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Product Details

  • Actors: .
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: PBS
  • DVD Release Date: January 9, 2007
  • Run Time: 60 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000JJ5F8O
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #67,656 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By D. Pollock on June 13, 2007
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As a high school IB Biology teacher I showed this video as part of a unit on the brain. Students were most taken with Case #1: Phanton Limb. I followed the case with two hands on exercises (from the teaching materials) that allow students to experience phantom sensations. I ended the lesson with a reading called "The Man Who Fell Out of Bed" from an Oliver Sachs book, followed by the online actvitiy "Probe the Brain" (PBS) which simulates the Penfield sensory motor cortex findings. A very stimulationg little lesson!
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In "Secrets of the Mind" we gain insights through various tragedies that have affected others, thanks to the logic and insights of Professor Ramachandran regarding what he calls the most complex organized matter in the universe.

The DVD begins with "phantom limb syndrome" - pain and sensation in missing body areas. Ramachandran's reasoning, confirmed through a CAT-scan, is that the brain has a map of various body areas, and that eg. the right arm and right face areas of the brain are adjacent. Thus, missing body areas can lead to interference by those associated brain areas trying to cope with stimulus deprivation - eg. "cross-wiring."

However, we are still left with the problem of treating pain in a body-part that no longer exists. Dr. Ramachandran found that placing the remaining opposite body part (eg. hand) into a mirror-box fools the mind into receiving feedback from the missing part and no longer sending ever-increasing (and unmet) signals that cause the pain.

Visual activities take up almost half the human brain. Dr. Ramachandran is confronted with an individual who can "see" (detect) movement but not recognize what the object is. His explanation is that there are two pathways from the eye in humans: one to the visual cortex that recognizes the object, and other to the brain stem that simply senses movement. Thus, when the visual cortex link is severed, one would only be able to recognize movement of a fly, but not the fly itself - perhaps the way a lizard views the world. Similarly, he says to driving - most of the time it is done without consciousness while the conscious brain is taken up in talking of other thinking.

Dr.
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if you are the least bit curious on how the mind works and the infinite mysteries that it holds then this DVD is for you. Some of the fascinating things that scientists, psychologists and physcians have discovered about the inner workings of the brain is unfortunately the result of brain injured patients. These people are the subjects of this DVD. It concerns their weird symptomalogies after surviving a truamatic, mechanical head injury, all of them real interesting subject matters but ofcourse the star of the show is the charismatic and engaging, Dr Ramachandran. He's obviously very smart and the top of his field, Nueroscience but he also has the enthusiasm of a keen five year old boy. His best asset is his charm and the rare ability to transform his own fascination about the brain into an interesting and compelling subject for the average, lay viewer. The camera loves him and he knows how to engage the camera. He would make a personable science TV host. The subject matter is interesting in itself for people in the medical field but Ramachandran makes it interesting for everyone. Highly recommended, it can be purchased by itself or as a set of three DVD's. But I thought it fair to review each DVD individually.
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Dr. Ramachandran is not only a great researcher in the active field of brain science, but is actually helping people. This is an excellent feature which illustrates several real life examples of helping people in dire need of medical assistance while doing good research and solid science. Dr. Ramachandran is as brilliant an educator and public speaker as he is a researcher. This was a totally engrossing demonstration of ongoing research applied to people and their problems. Another very interesting DVD featuring Dr. Ramachandran, as well as other important brain researchers is "Consciousness", also available from Amazon.
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Dr. V.S. Ramachandran presents many cases of injuries which affect the human brain. For example: Phantom Limb Syndrome, Blind Sight, Injuries which can cause signals to go to our brain stem, which is our lizard brain (this seemed to be a problem with some former government officials who were known in the US as neocons), Visual Neglect, Oedipus Complex, Temporal Lobe Epilepsy, Grand Mal Seizures which could cause a person to think they see God. The finding that there may be a religious center in our brains, if true, could be a positive benefit for a society, but negative if we see the beliefs of others as a threat to us. For example, we see in the news on a regular basis the ongoing war between Israelis and Palestinians, whose gene pools are almost identical, but are separated by religion.
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I highly recommend this video. The brilliant Doctor clearly and simply explains some of the most perplexing neurological problems that have plagued mankind for decades and in the case of phantom pain,across centuries. The explanations offered are realistic and understandable by both the novice student and seasoned professional. This presentation should be mandatory viewing in all Introductory and Neuropsychology classes.
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