The Decisive Moment

Hari Dhillon and Amanda Burton read Jonah Lehrer's exploration of neuroscience and how the human brain makes up its mind.

Episodes

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01*20090302

The importance of the emotional brain.

Since Plato, philosophers have described the decision-making process as either rational or emotional: we carefully deliberate or we go with our gut instinct.

But as scientists break open the mind's black box with the latest tools of neuroscience, they are discovering that this is not an accurate picture of how the mind works.

Our best decisions are a finely-tuned blend of both feeling and reason, and the precise mix depends on the situation.

How our decisions are a finely-tuned blend of feeling and reason.

02*20090303

How the fluctuations of a few dopamine neurons saved a battleship during the first Gulf War.

Plus, how the human brain's ability to learn from experience meant that chess grand master Garry Kasparov was able to compete at the same level as a computer program, despite having far less computational power.

How the fluctuations of a few dopamine neurons saved a battleship in the first Gulf War.

03*20090304

The defects in the emotional brain that lead us toward bad decisions such as excessive risk taking, gambling on the stock market or taking out sub-prime mortgages.

What exactly is the circuitry of temptation?

The defects in the emotional brain that lead us toward bad decisions.

04*20090305

Exploring the crucial role of the pre-frontal cortex in decision-making.

How a firefighter's ability to think creatively in the middle of a horrific bush fire proved to be a life-saving decision.

How is the human brain able to process huge amounts of information under great time pressure, and where is the seat of rational thought?

How a firefighter's creative thinking in a bush fire proved to be a life-saving decision.

05 LAST*20090306

Exploring the certainty trap - a potential hazard for pundits and politicians alike.

It feels good to be certain, but this can lead each of us to pretend that our mind is in full agreement with itself, even when it is not.

In other words, we trick ourselves into being sure.

But is it possible to use our knowledge of the brain to avoid such pitfalls?