Memory is the glue that binds our mental lives. Without it, we’d be prisoners of the present, unable to use the lessons of the past to change our future. From our first kiss to where we put our keys, memory represents who we are and how we learn and navigate the world. But how does it work? Neuroscientists using cutting-edge techniques are exploring the precise molecular mechanisms of memory". By studying a range of individuals ranging —from an 11-year-old whiz-kid who remembers every detail of his life to a woman who had memories implanted— scientists have uncovered a provocative idea. For much of human history, memory has been seen as a tape recorder that faithfully registers information and replays intact. But now, researchers are discovering that memory is far more malleable, always being written and rewritten, not just by us but by others. We are discovering the precise mechanisms that can explain and even control our memories. The question is— are we ready?
Dr Michael Mosley and Professor Alice Roberts investigate if male and female brains really are wired differently. New research suggests that the connections in men and women's brains follow different patterns, patterns which may explain typical forms of male and female behaviour. But are these patterns innate, or are they shaped by the world around us?" Using a team of human lab rats and a troop of barbary monkeys, Michael and Alice test the science and challenge old stereotypes. They ask whether this new scientific research will benefit both men and women - or whether it could drive the sexes even further apart.
The video game industry is a global phenomenon. There are over 1.2 billion gamers across the planet, with sales projected soon to pass $100 billion per year. But their very popularity fuels the controversy that surrounds them. They frequently stand accused of corrupting the young - of causing violence and addiction. But is this true? The scientific community is deeply divided". Some are convinced that video games incite aggression. Others insist they have no effect whatsoever on real-world violence. But away from the controversy, there is a growing body of evidence that suggests video games may help keep the brain sharp, and could soon revolutionise how we combat mental decline as we age.
Adam Rutherford meets a new creature created by American scientists, the spider-goat. It is part goat, part spider, and its milk can be used to create artificial spider's web. It is part of a new field of research, synthetic biology, with a radical aim: to break down nature into spare parts so that we can rebuild it however we please. This technology is already being used to make bio-diesel to power cars. Other researchers are looking at how we might, one day, control human emotions by sending 'biological machines' into our brains.
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