July 19, 2014 1:27 pm

Big Brain Theory: StarTalk Live! at BAM Part 1 This Sunday


Photo from StarTalk Live! at BAM showing Dr. Heather Berlin, Mayim Bialik, and Neil deGrasse Tyson

From Left: Dr. Heather Berlin, Dr. Mayim Bialik, Neil deGrasse Tyson

If you didn’t attend StarTalk Live! at BAM earlier this year, and somebody told you that the two science guests that evening were Dr. Heather Berlin, an Assistant Professor of Neuroscience & Psychiatry, Mt. Sinai Hospital, and Mayim Bialik, who plays neuroscientist Amy Farrah Fowler on The Big Bang Theory, you might be a bit confused, for which you would understandably be forgiven.

But, as Mayim says during Part 1 of “Big Brains at BAM”, “I’m not just a neuroscientist in real life, but I play one on TV.” And she’s got the PhD to prove it.

Together, Heather and Mayim took us on a journey into the human brain, exploring questions like, “What is consciousness?” and “What is self-awareness?” They explained how psychiatry and neuroscience is moving away from single, vague labels like “Autistic” and towards describing (and treating) people in terms of spectrums, dimensions and traits. They discussed genetic predispositions, behavior modification and raising children. Mayim and Heather even talked about being women in science, and they addressed the stereotypes of scientists and professors lacking in social skills the way Amy’s fellow characters are portrayed in The Big Bang Theory.

Of course, all of that science wasn’t delivered in a vacuum. How could it be, with Eugene Mirman, Michael Ian Black and Paul Rudd on stage, waiting to pounce on comedic targets of opportunity? Without them, who would have brought up waterboarding or using cocaine as a motivator? And we certainly wouldn’t have had that delicious moment when Neil deGrasse Tyson gets schooled on what bi-curious means.

The biggest surprise in Part 1, and of the entire evening, in fact, was when Bill Nye the Science guy jumped out of his seat in the audience and joined the group on stage. It may have been the single largest roar of applause I’ve ever heard from any audience at a StarTalk Live! We get just a taste of Bill in Part 1, but we get plenty more of him in Parts 2 and 3.

Join us for Part 1 this Sunday, July 20 at 7:00 PM ET on our website, iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn and SoundCloud. Parts 2 and 3 will air on the following two Sundays.

That’s it for now. Keep Looking Up!

–Jeffrey Simons

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