Weekly Brain Food – April 17, 2016

Weekly Brain Food – April 17, 2016

A selection of stories shaping our brains this week

How ‘The Wire’ is Inspiring New Classroom Curricula

It’s taught in sociology, literature, gender studies, legal, and anthropology classes in some of the most esteemed institutions of higher learning (Harvard, NYU, Johns Hopkins, to name just three). Eileen Gillooly, an English literature professor at Columbia University likens ‘The Wire’ to a 19th century novel, rich and complex that pays to re-watch like a Dickens novel pays to re-read. She organized a conference recently to bring together educators using The Wire as a tool in their classrooms to discuss everything from race to politics and the legal system. Screen time well spent.

Full video here


Chatbots Explained: Why the world’s most powerful tech companies think they’re the biggest thing since the iPhone

Chat bots have been all over the news the last few weeks, with revelations of just how awesome Amazon’s Alexa has become, and Facebook’s chat bot marketplace plans coming out of F8, the company’s annual development conference. Even very embarrassing and public missteps, like Microsoft Tay fiasco, aren’t dissuading the big tech firms from moving quickly in this space. It’s a better way to interact with technology.

Full Story here


NBC Is Ditching Nielsen Ratings For Some Advertisers, But Who’s Buying?

NBC is following the lead of Viacom and Fox and offering select advertisers ad deals not based on Nielsen ratings, but rather on bespoke data blends based on part on set-top box data provided by parent company Comcast. While this enthuses some buyers, others – like leading buyer GroupM – don’t appear moved by the offer.

Full Story here


LSD’s impact on the brain revealed in groundbreaking images

Brain researchers have long maintained a fascination with the reported effects of LSD – the hallucinogenic, dream-like state, the ‘oneness with the world’, the ‘connected consciousness’. But only now have they trained their powerful imaging tools on what happens in the brain during an LSD trip.

LSD Brain Images - Imperial Colege London and Beckley Foundation

The Brain on LSD (Images: Imperial Colege London and Beckley Foundation)


The findings are mind-blowing. LSD connects regions of the brain that don’t typically ‘speak’ to one another (see brain images), which goes some way to explaining the reported connected consciousness that trippers experience. Researchers think, “the drug could be used to pull the brain out of thought patterns seen in depression and addiction through its effects on brain networks.”

Full story here


People Still Don’t Get the Link Between Meat Consumption and Climate Change 

Would a change in communication strategy help people both understand the impact of meat consumption on climate change, and make the necessary behavioural changes for a more sustainable relationship with the planet? Annick de Witt thinks so. She contends that too much of the communication tells us what not to do instead of what to do, and that a positive re-framing could help to create a movement in support of a critical issue.

Full story here


Image credit: HBO


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