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NOVA scienceNOW delves into some pretty heady stuff to examine magic and the brain, artificial intelligence, mind control, and the nature of reality in an astonishing episode on how the brain works. First, can we really believe our own eyes? Viewers will learn whether the secrets behind the world's greatest magic tricks are actually wired into the human brain when eccentric magicians Penn and Teller and Las Vegas trickster Apollo Robbins team up with neuroscientists to reveal how our brains process visual information. Then, a riveting piece reveals the difficulties of replicating the human brain in machines like IBM's “Watson,” attempting to mimic the human thought process with software is actually providing new insight into the brain itself. Also, satirist and comedian Mo Rocca takes a turn as a NOVA scienceNOW correspondent in an intriguing sequence on the thrilling, terrifying prospect of controlling another's thoughts and actions using invisible forces of mind control. Rocca offers himself as test subject as scientists “hack” into his brain, using magnetism to make him move his limbs.

The same new invention can also dampen pain, ease depression, and even change the way we make moral judgments. Then, experience neuroscientist David Eagleman's unique brand of “guerilla science,” when he drops people 150 feet into a net to show viewers how the brain constructs reality using the information it takes in through the senses. “How Does the Brain Work?” airs Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2011 at 8 p.m. on Eight, Arizona PBS.


About Eight, Arizona PBS

Eight, Arizona PBS specializes in the education of children, in-depth news and public affairs, lifelong learning, and the celebration of arts and culture -- utilizing the power of noncommercial television, the Internet, educational outreach services, and community-based initiatives. The PBS station began broadcasting from the campus of Arizona State University on January 30, 1961. Now more than 80 percent of Arizonans receive the signal through a network of translators, cable and satellite systems. With more than 1 million viewers each week, Eight consistently ranks among the most-viewed public television stations per capita in the country. Arizonans provide more than 60 percent of the station's annual budget.

Eight is a member-supported service of Arizona State University.