The Current

Neuroscientist and comedian Dean Burnett thinks your brain is an idiot

Dean Burnett's new book helps unpack the mysteries of the brain, which he says is a messy and silly organ worthy of greater exploration.
From our long term memories, to the reptile brain and from motion sickness, to rabbit's feet and laughter — a look at the perplexing inner-workings of our brains. (W. W. Norton & Company/Sarah Breeze)

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Dean Burnett is the rare combination of neuroscientist and stand-up comedian — and he thinks your brain is an idiot.

In fact, Burnett thinks all our brains are idiots. His new book, The Idiot Brain: A Neuroscientist Explains What Your Head is Really Up To, helps unpack the mysteries of the brain, which he says is a paranoid and perplexing organ worthy of greater exploration.

Ever wonder why you can't remember why you walked into the kitchen, but all of a sudden you can recall every word to a jingle you heard years ago? That's your idiot brain.

It's a ramshackle approach because there's some things which we like, or something we form connections [with, which] are easy to access. Other things which don't get properly encoded at the time are difficult.- Dean  Burnett

But even if your brain may not supply you with the memory you want when you need it, Burnett says it more than does its job when it comes to self-preservation. Even if it is a bit of a scaredy-cat.

This segment was produced by The Current's Howard Goldenthal.