Tools & Technology

Old Brains, New Brains: The Human Mind, Past and Present

Modern technology is producing views of the brain that call into question conventional ideas of maturity and free will.

Episode 198 | April 29, 2015

The early days of neuroscience relied on tragedy to strike—a rabies infection, a botched lobotomy—before doctors could peek inside the brains of humans. Today advanced technology, such as the functional MRI, helps scientists study brains (and healthy ones at that) far more easily. The revelations they’re making call into question conventional ideas of maturity and our capacity for free will.

The story begins at a unique laboratory at Michigan Technological University, called the Mind Music Machine, where reporter Allison Mills talks to a cognitive scientist who’s trying to develop technology that can interpret our emotions. 

Then we talk about the history of neuroscience with Sam Kean, a regular contributor to Distillations and author of the recent book The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons. Frances Jensen, a neuroscientist and author of The Teenage Brain, brings us into the present and explains the science behind why teenagers drive their parents crazy.


Hosts: Michal Meyer and Bob Kenworthy
Guests: Sam Kean and Frances Jensen
Reporter: Allison Mills
Producer and Editor: Mariel Carr
Music: Courtesy of the Audio Network