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Published On: Thu, Feb 18th, 2016

Nat Geo’s ‘Brain Games’ explores God, the nature of believing and science

National Geographic Channel (@NatGeoChannel) amps up a new season of BRAIN GAMES (@BrainGames), challenging and engaging viewers, taking them on visually awe-inspiring expeditions in search of answers to some of the most perplexing and fascinating questions in modern neuroscience. BRAIN GAMES returns with six new hourlong episodes premiering Sunday, Feb. 14, at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT. This season will air globally on National Geographic Channel in 171 countries and 45 languages.

Wonder junkie Jason Silva (@JasonSilva) takes viewers to the gritty backstreets of New Orleans, traipses deep into the woods of America’s National Park System and conducts experiments in hightech laboratories at the world’s top institutions visually illustrating the “wow” behind the “why” to better understand the science. This new iteration of the Emmy®nominated BRAIN GAMES will be a thought-provoking look at the inner workings of our minds.

“BRAIN GAMES is a walk through our senses, uncovering the powers of our minds that we never knew existed,” said Silva. “With this new season, we ambitiously embark on ‘mind missions’ to spark new ideas and reveal new possibilities, awakening us to the awe-inspiring borderland between illusion and reality.”

In his quest to explore topics like the seven deadly sins, God, survival, hidden senses, the regions of the brain and how your brain ages, Silva teams up with some of the world’s foremost neuroscientists, psychologists, cognitive scientists and specialists. The mind-bending, jaw-dropping and illusion-shattering journey they take through the twists and turns of gray matter makes for a profoundly entertaining and enlightening exploration of the most complex organ in the human body.

Alongside these amazing investigations, Silva presents an incredible assortment of interactive games and enthralling experiments designed to mess with the mind and reveal the surprising inner workings of the brain. This new season’s whirlwind of a trip around the world includes London, Jerusalem, Colorado Springs, New York City, New Orleans, Philadelphia and the New Jersey Shore.

Upcoming episodes of BRAIN GAMES include:

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Brain Games: Meet the Brain

Premieres Feb. 14, at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT

You probably think you’ve got one mind that makes you, you. But our brains are home to many distinct structures, regions and neighborhoods in constant conference with each other that guide our behavior. Join host Jason Silva on an unforgettable tour through London, England, where groundbreaking scientists team with taxi drivers, pub waitresses and musicians to illustrate how all this incredible wetware works together. This episode explores the Hever Castle with Dr. Rebecca Knight of the University of Hertfordshire and a memory game, and a paint-by-numbers exercise at Butler’s Wharf with the University of Oxford’s Dr. Steven Hicks and inversion eyewear. Get ready to meet your brain. It will engage you, amaze you and help you understand yourself like never before. After all, it’s the one physical system on earth capable of looking at itself.

Brain Games: The God Brain

Premieres Feb. 21, at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT

Host Jason Silva travels to Jerusalem, Israel, to explore “The God Brain.” Fascinating new research has uncovered the possibility that believing in God may be hardwired in our brains. Is this because a divine power greater than us installed this software? Or is it possible that the believing part of the brain has evolved over thousands of years as an evolutionary adaptation that helps us succeed as a species? Physician and neuroscientist Andrew Newberg of Jefferson University Hospital has spent decades exploring the neurophysiology of religious and spiritual practice. Dr. Trevor Cox from the University of Salford, an expert on sound perception, explains how you respond to different musical keys and music played in churches. Dr. Jennifer Whitson of UCLA focuses on the psychological experience of control and sheds light on how to make sense of the environment and inexplicable events. Dr. Bruce Hood, an experimental psychologist at the University of Bristol, will demonstrate that even the most nonbelieving brain can have unconscious biases, which are fundamental characteristics for supernatural thinking. Also, award-winning science journalist Cara Santa Maria runs an experiment that puts morals to the test. Explore the nature of believing and why this deep-rooted instinct is found across every civilization and culture.

Brain Games: Brains Behaving Badly

Premieres Feb. 28, at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT

Host Jason Silva visits New Orleans, Louisiana, to explore the brain and bad behavior. A series of games and experiments demonstrate how the brain has an evolutionary predilection toward doing the wrong thing. Dr. Piers Steele from the University of Calgary shows how sloth affects the brain. Dr. Carrie Wieland from Tulane University puts the evolutionary origins of envy to the test. From guilty pleasures to vicious vices, you’ll learn why we’re drawn to behaviors that ruin us, how to fight back against enticing evils and why some negative emotions are actually critical for survival. Behavioral expert Dr. Alex Cohen of Louisiana University shows us how the brain can switch to anger even when it should be perfectly happy. Magician Jamy Ian Swiss tricks a group of gamblers into being greedy, and Dr. Abigail Baird, associate professor of psychology at Vassar College, explores lust and what drives the brain wild. Get ready to be bad.

Brain Games: Life of the Brain

Premieres March 6, at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT

Everyone’s brain changes throughout life, expanding and contracting, shifting points of views, adjusting perspectives — you wake up every day with a brand new brain. Host Jason Silva heads to the New Jersey Shore to show how the mind’s point of view shifts over a lifetime. Dr. April Benasich at Rutgers University conducts a brain game designed for babies against an adult, and the results are surprising. Dr. Abigail Baird of Vassar College hits the boardwalk to examine the “tween” brain, while Dr. Jason Chein of Temple University shows how risk-taking behaviors vary between teenagers and adults. If you learn something about the life of the brain, you may find you have a renewed patience for those at a different stop on the brain’s journey. Associate Professor Cindy Lustig from the University of Michigan tests how the changing brain affects our cognitive recognition and tracking. Get ready to see where your brain started as a baby, how it evolves through tween-hood and adolescence and where it is going as an adult and into old age. Who knows, with new technological innovations in neuroscience, one day your brain might live forever.

Brain Games: Super Senses

Premieres March 13, at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT

There’s no better place than New York City to mess with your mind. Host Jason Silva leads viewers through a series of games and experiments designed to show that the brain has far more than just five senses, and how each of these work together to influence interactions with the world. Is mind reading just a footnote in science fiction? With the help of an unsuspecting crowd in Times Square, mentalist Marc Salem — in an interactive mind-bending illusion — will try to convince us that it’s not. Dr. Andy Murray from Columbia University will test the neural networks that control motor skills as participants try to ride a bike with one gear. Dr. Allison Okamura of the University of California proves that cognitive perception can affect the way we accept what our motor senses actually feel. Get ready to have some super-sense knocked into you.

Brain Games: The Survivor Brain

Premieres March 20, at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT

In this episode, host Jason Silva meets several people in Colorado Springs, Colorado, who personify the word “survivor,” and puts their brains to the test in a battery of challenges engineered to demonstrate what it takes to be a super survivor. The group gathers to deconstruct the brain science behind human survival: how we evolve to survive and what role our ancient instincts play today in keeping us alive or getting in the way. Neuroscientist Dr. Bart Russell from Lockheed Martin tests one group’s cognitive performance under stress. Dr. John Huth of Harvard University, who wrote a book on how to find our way when we are lost, tests the brain’s ability to remember details. Dr. Alex Jordan of the University of Texas puts the survivors to the ultimate test, but they’ll have to accept that the key to surviving may be a collective effort. We learn common characteristics of survivors whether hardy or fragile and discover what can be done to tap into the brain’s built-in survival instinct.

BRAIN GAMES is produced by National Geographic Studios (NGS) and Geoffrey Sharp serves as executive producer. For NGC US, Tim Pastore is president, original programming and production. For National Geographic Channel International (NGCI), Hamish Mykura is executive vice president and head of international content.

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