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Jad Abumrad: 01:05 Recently, we interviewed a guy named [Steven 00:01:07] Johnson who wrote a book. He tells this story of how the book came about.
Steven J.: 01:13 There was one specific event, actually, that really triggered it which is that I tried a biofeedback experiment.
Jad Abumrad: 01:18 He had found a place where he could get hooked up to a bunch of sensors and probes and then see what was happening inside his body. In real time.
Robert Krulwich: 01:27 I went in having been kind of curious about this and tried it out and it's kind of therapeutic environment where there's a doctor who sits there and talks to you. It's a bit like going to a shrink. We started the session and there's a little screen and you can see this little line scrolling along. Initially it's very even kind of flat line. After about a minute or two of talking the doctor actually said, "Your adrenaline system seems very well regulated."
Steven J.: 01:52 I said, "Thank you very much. Thank you. I've always suspected that it was." Then for some reason about a minute or two after that I decided as I sometimes do that I would make a joke and so I tossed out some stupid little joke about something and instantly a huge spike appeared on the screen. There was this giant kind of surge of adrenaline that had been released in my body and we both kind of turned and looked at the monitor and said, "Whoa. What was that?"
Steven J.: 02:18 At the end of this session ... we talked for about 30 minutes and he gave me this printout of the whole session and it was effectively a chart of my attempts at humor. It was this flat line interrupted by six spikes of jokes, successful or otherwise, that I had tried to make. I looked at that and I thought, "Of all the times over the years that I had found myself making borderline inappropriate jokes At situations where a joke was probably not the appropriate thing to do ... when I teach, compulsively making jokes to get laughs from the students and ... I thought, somehow, years ago I set up this little circuit in my head that I ... guaranteed me this little jolt of adrenaline every time I made a joke. I felt kind of like a drug addict more than a funny guy.
Jad Abumrad: 02:59 A glimpse of himself he was not prepared for. It got him thinking ...
Steven J.: 03:03 How many other routines like that are going on in my head at any given time and what would happen if I went out and tried to track them down?
Jad Abumrad: 03:11 What would happen is he's write a book. A book about the brain, which in turn got us interested in the brain. What better time? In the thousands of years that human beings have been curious about what's going on in our heads, we can actually find out now. Get inside a charge buzzing brain remotely while the owner of that brain is still alive doing normal things like wiggling a finger or drinking a Pepsi. Using giant magnets, researches can watch blood flow in the brain and guess at what part of the brain commands the finger to wiggle. What part likes Pepsi? What part likes Coke? Which part leads democrat? Which republican?
Jad Abumrad: 03:51 Seriously, these are tests researchers have actually done. They've put brain imaging helmets on nuns as they meditate. Sleepers as they dream. It is a new world. Not unlike 17th century Venice when crafts people figured out a deep mystery. How to take a piece of glass, line it with tin and make a mirror. A mirror that was cheap and more importantly, straight. All of a sudden, Europeans could see their own reflection as they actually are. Not wobbly or distorted. Imagine earlier when Narcissus actually catches his own reflection in a pond and is amazed at that mysterious person looking back at him from the cloudy depths.
Steven J.: 04:39 I remember being seven or eight and I would look into the mirror and have those moments of like, "That's me. That's me in the mirror. That's weird that ... What does it mean that I'm me?" Have those kind of slightly surreal moments when I was seven. To some extent, I can't get those moments anymore. I can get the weirdness of looking at yourself and thinking what does it mean that I'm a me.
Jad Abumrad: 05:05 What Steven Johnson just described, standing in front of a mirror and freaking out is a little like repeating a word over and over. The meaning of the word gets disassociated from the sound, just like the image of you becomes disconnected from the real you, the inner you. The little guy sitting at the controls behind your eyes. The self, the soul. Whatever you want to call it. That thing is something scientists are looking for right now. It's what we'll be looking for this hour. Where is it?
Robert Krulwich: 05:34 You mean where is the inner real me?
Jad Abumrad: 05:37 Yeah. Your self.
Robert Krulwich: 05:39 That's such a big ... Introduce yourself and then we can begin talking about this.
Jad Abumrad: 05:44 Okay. This is Radiolab. I'm Jad Abumrad and you ...
Robert Krulwich: 05:47 Robert Krulwich. We know that our bodies change, all our cells change, moods change, dreams change. Everything about a normal healthy person is flux, is change, yet somehow there is a oneness, a through line, a continuous sense of sense, you wonder how the heck does that happen? Where is this self thing?
Jad Abumrad: 06:08 That's how we're going to start. We're going to hear from somebody who thinks he's found it. Thinks he can point to it inside us. Later in the program, we'll hear a story of a woman who has certainly lost it. Woke up one day as a completely different person.
Robert Krulwich: 06:21 I will introduce you to a scientist who says he can explain ... At least, he has a good theory about why human brains differ from all the brains of all the other creatures.
Jad Abumrad: 06:30 All that is coming up. Okay. Let's get things started.
Robert Krulwich: 06:44 When you ask the basic question, where is the self, the ancients had an answer. Always the same answer. Right there. That's where the center of rational thought, speech, everything is.
Jad Abumrad: 06:57 Didn't they actually try and cut it open and see if it was living in there?
Robert Krulwich: 07:00 Yeah. Then they found out it was a pump, so they were really disappointed. They began to gaze upward a bit. Here's the modern prejudice. VS Ramachandran is one of the world's great neurologists. If you ask him where the self lies, he'll tell you without any question it lies ... but you'd hear this ...
Jad Abumrad: 07:19 That is what?
Robert Krulwich: 07:19 That is a the sound of a neuron firing.
VS Ramachandran: 07:21 It's astonishing that we got 100 billion little wisps of jelly in your head called neurons. It's the activities of these neurons, a flux of ions across them, the passage of current ... that is life. What we call our mental life, our thoughts, our ideas and ambitions, our passions, our fear of death, our love life. Everything. Even what you think of as your own intimate self. You is the activity of these little specks of jelly. This is the greatest realization in the last hundred years. In a sense, it's obvious when stated in that manner.
Jad Abumrad: 07:58 But not all brains can do what he just described.
Robert Krulwich: 08:03 What makes you think that?
Jad Abumrad: 08:05 Let me introduce you to Julian Keenan. He works at Montclair State University. Talked to him recently. He told me this story of many years ago. His mentor, Gordon [Gallop 00:08:14] did an experiment. Took a bunch of chimpanzees, put them in a room with a mirror, where they could see their own reflection. When he did, this is what happened.
Julian Keenan: 08:23 At first, they would attack the mirror. They started beating their chest and started threatening it as if the animal in the mirror was another chimpanzee. Then slowly, over then course of tens of minutes, the chimp began to say, "Wait a minute. This guy's doing exactly what I'm doing."
Jad Abumrad: 08:43 Wasn't there something about them sticking their butts on the mirror too?
Julian Keenan: 08:45 Yeah. There was a lot of that going on. They would show you all the signs that they knew that that was them in the mirror.
Robert Krulwich: 08:51 Wait. How does a chimp know that the image in the mirror is the chimp? Couldn't he be thinking, "Oh, let's just bash butts with that other chimp [crosstalk 00:09:01]"
Jad Abumrad: 09:00 Yes, you're right. This is anecdotal. How do you prove it? That's, says Julian, is where a clever little technique called The Mark Test comes in.
Julian Keenan: 09:09 My mentor, Gordon Gallup, one day he was shaving. As he turned away from the mirror, I think there was a spot of shaving cream left on his face. As he was wiping it off, he wondered, would a chimp do the same thing?
Jad Abumrad: 09:20 In other words, would the chimp look at the mirror and think, "Hmm, that guy sure does look like me, moves like me? Maybe that creature is me? If that guy has a spot on his face, maybe I have a spot on my face." To test this, to see if chimps can recognize themselves they did an experiment.
Julian Keenan: 09:37 You knock them out. You give them some anesthesia. A half hour, you knock them out. While they're unconscious you just paint a red mark on top of their forehead.
Jad Abumrad: 09:46 Wait for them to wake up.
Julian Keenan: 09:48 Then you put them in front of a mirror again.
Jad Abumrad: 09:52 There is the test. The chimp wakes up with a spot in its head and then touches the spot on its own head.
Julian Keenan: 09:57 The typical thing that it will do is it will wipe the mark and then smell. "What is that? Is that food, is that tree sap?" That was clear evidence that these chimpanzees recognized themselves.
Robert Krulwich: 10:09 Oh my god. That's pretty interesting.
Jad Abumrad: 10:12 Isn't it?
Robert Krulwich: 10:12 Yeah.
Jad Abumrad: 10:13 Especially if you think about what the chimp is doing. It's creating a representation of itself that floats free of its body. That over there is the same thing as me over here.
Robert Krulwich: 10:24 It's very intellectual because you can't feel that other guy. You don't know that you've been touch. You just see it over there and you know somehow that that's you.
Jad Abumrad: 10:31 Exactly.
Robert Krulwich: 10:31 That's your brain going there. That's your brain.
Jad Abumrad: 10:34 This thing with the chimps opened up a Pandora's box.
Julian Keenan: 10:38 This was a major discovery because it revealed that the chimpanzee has some sense of self awareness. What that sort of means is that the chimpanzee might have a soul or a self a lot like humans have and it immediately bought up a lot of ethical considerations. Should they be in the zoos? Should we charge them for murder? Do they have equal rights? There are some people today who are even fighting for equal rights for chimpanzees.
Robert Krulwich: 11:08 These are unusually passionate people. The question that lingers in my mind is where did this ideas of self, recognizing a self, where does it come from?
Jad Abumrad: 11:19 Where do our mirror powers come from?
Robert Krulwich: 11:21 Yeah.
Jad Abumrad: 11:21 Bill Clinton.
Robert Krulwich: 11:22 From who?
Jad Abumrad: 11:23 Bill Clinton.
Robert Krulwich: 11:24 President Bill Clinton?
Jad Abumrad: 11:25 Yes.
Robert Krulwich: 11:27 Why?
Jad Abumrad: 11:29 It's not really Bill Clinton, but he does figure largely into an experiment that Julian Keenan did recently that tries to answer that question.
Julian Keenan: 11:36 The idea was can we get a more elegant way of testing self recognition. We know that humans recognize their own faces, so what we came up with was this morph design. I was at a Comp USA and saw this bargain bin 9.99 morph software which we still use today.
Jad Abumrad: 11:53 With this software, Julian Keenan does the following. He takes a photo of himself and a photo of Bill Clinton he has lying around.
Robert Krulwich: 11:59 Which we all have ... I mean I have a pile of them.
Jad Abumrad: 12:01 He's a big Bill Clinton fan. He digitally smooshes the two photos together. Makes a morph. 50% Julian, 50% Bill.
Robert Krulwich: 12:08 Right on top of each other.
Jad Abumrad: 12:09 Yes. Like in that Michael Jackson video [inaudible 00:12:11].
Robert Krulwich: 12:11 Oh, yeah. I know that one.
Jad Abumrad: 12:12 The first thing he realizes when he takes a glance at this photo is that he finds it very easy to see himself in the morph.
Julian Keenan: 12:19 I would always say, "Oh, that looks like me."
Jad Abumrad: 12:20 Whereas when other people see the morph, the first thing they see if Bill Clinton.
Julian Keenan: 12:24 Anyone else looking at that picture would say, "You're out of your mind. That looks like Bill Clinton."
Jad Abumrad: 12:28 Julian sees Julian. Everyone else sees Bill.
Julian Keenan: 12:31 What we turned that was the self effect. There's this real affinity to see yourself in these morphs.
Jad Abumrad: 12:41 That's where things get interesting. He tries it out on his patients. Takes a photo of Bill Clinton.
Bill Clinton: 12:46 I did not have sexual relations with that woman.
Jad Abumrad: 12:51 And a photo of a test subject, which lets pretend for the moment is you.
Julian Keenan: 12:54 I did not have sexual relations with that woman.
Jad Abumrad: 13:00 Good. With the computer, he morphs the two together.
Julian Keenan: 13:03 [crosstalk 00:13:03] I did not have sexual relations with that woman.
Bill Clinton: 13:06 [crosstalk 00:13:06] I did not have sexual relations with that woman.
Jad Abumrad: 13:07 He shows you the picture. Same thing. You see more of you in the morph. Everyone else sees more of Bill in the morph. You see more of you. They see less of you. Now, the twist. Julian injects you with a special anesthesia that puts half your brain to sleep.
Julian Keenan: 13:22 You can anesthetize, safely anesthetize each hemisphere one at a time. You can knock out the left hemisphere for about five minutes and or knock out the right hemisphere for about five minutes. What we did was we showed them these morphs. A 50/50 picture. What we found was that without the right hemisphere they wouldn't see themselves, but when they did have the right hemisphere they always saw themselves.
Jad Abumrad: 13:46 In other words, Robert, when you're looking at this at this morph of you and Bill Clinton, and the right side of your brain is turned off, you will see mostly bill.
Bill Clinton: 13:54 I did not have sexual relations with that woman.
Jad Abumrad: 13:56 When the right side of you is turned back on, suddenly you will see mostly you again.
Robert Krulwich: 14:00 Sexual relations with that woman.
Jad Abumrad: 14:02 Yes.
Robert Krulwich: 14:03 What you're saying then is my ability to recognize myself is somehow lodged in the right side of my head?
Jad Abumrad: 14:10 That's what he thinks. This seems to be a real victory for the right hemisphere. We always talk about the left hemisphere as being the smart one that does language, can solve problems, does math. Here you're saying without the right hemisphere we don't really know who we are.
Julian Keenan: 14:23 Right. Sometimes it feels like when you're crusading for right hemisphere rights, we're gonna march on Washington or something, the right hemisphere has been called the minor hemisphere throughout the whole of last century because it doesn't have language. I think that this is really the main reason we have a right hemisphere. Is it gives us self awareness.
Robert Krulwich: 14:45 The idea of a self while in our brains it turns out is from a neighborhood in our brains, if you believe this guy.
Jad Abumrad: 14:52 Yeah. It's kind of lopsided.
Robert Krulwich: 14:53 Yeah.
Jad Abumrad: 14:53 Over to the right.
Robert Krulwich: 14:54 Over to the right. Which, I thought myself, was kind of everywhere.
Jad Abumrad: 14:59 Pinning it down might not be as easy as Julian thinks. Especially when you hear stories like this next one about how the soul or the self can just sometimes take a walk. Producer Hannah Palin tells this story of her mother.
Hannah Palin: 15:15 15 years ago my mother had a brain aneurysm when she was only 46 years old. I've come to refer to it as the day my mother's head exploded.
Hannah's Mother: 15:23 It was Friday, the 20th of August, and I woke up with a bad headache. In the past, I'd go to an aerobics class and my headache would go away. It was just like magic. It was great. I went to the aerobics class and I worked out a little bit and the headache just kept getting worse and worse. Somebody took it upon themselves to call 911. I was laying on the couch and all these little men came in with a stretcher and whisked me off to St. Francis Hospital in Beacon. That's the last thing I remember for four months.
Hannah Palin: 16:13 When I finally arrived by my mother's bedside, my stepfather led me into the tiny room where my mother lay hooked up to every conceivable wire and monitor. I took her hand just to let her know that I was finally there and she responded with a surprisingly tight squeeze. She knew her only child was there and her spirit wanted to let me know how happy she was, but her fragile body just couldn't handle it. Every monitor in the room went crazy. Alarm bells went off. The room became this living thing. Hissing and beeping. Consuming my mother's life blood.
Hannah Palin: 16:48 Nurses and doctors filled the room. My mother tightened her grip on my hand and then I fainted. The mother I grew up with died that day and was replaced by an entirely different person, who just happens to have the same memories and body and family and address as my dead mother. She spent the next three months unconscious in intensive care. After an operation to repair her aneurysm, my mother spent two more months in a regular hospital room. She was able to sit up and talk a little bit and was conscious, although not exactly coherent.
Hannah Palin: 17:28 One day, I couldn't help but ask where she thought her spirit had gone while the rest of her lay unconscious at the Westchester Medical Center. She told me she'd been in Vietnam.
Hannah's Mother: 17:39 I remember that I was a little old man in Vietnam and I grew vegetables. It has something to do with reincarnation, I think. I don't know if that was a previous life or that's the life I'm going to or what but it was so far away from anything I know now. I know nothing about vegetables and I know nothing about Vietnam and I know nothing about being a little old man, but that's what it was.
Hannah Palin: 18:22 When Christmas came around, my mother was moved to a rehab facility but she was still just the shell of a person. She could barely talk. She was using a walker. She needed help going to the bathroom. She still had a feeding tube coming out of her stomach.
Hannah's Mother: 18:37 I had to learn to walk again. I had to learn to climb stairs. It was a real weird sensation being 46 years old and having to learn to walk again.
Hannah Palin: 18:51 After seven months, my mother was released from the hospital and I returned to Chicago to pick up my life where I left off. When I returned home, I found myself grieving and feeling really guilty about it. My mother was still alive. I was supposed to be happy, but I just kept feeling like she was gone forever. I ordered myself to have patience. To wait it out. I was her daughter. She needed me. Then slowly, very slowly, this other person began to emerge.
Hannah's Mother: 19:27 I know what we can do. We'll sing.
Hannah Palin: 19:27 Okay. Get ready.
Hannah's Mother: 19:27 (music)
Hannah Palin: 19:34 That's my mother and I singing together. My mother never used to sing. Now, she'll erupt into song at the mere hint of an attentive audience. Then she got a tattoo above her left knee. A little red heart on a green stem. She's addicted to Wendy's hamburgers and even sings a little song about how much she loves going there.
Hannah's Mother: 19:54 (singing)
Hannah Palin: 19:55 I told myself my mother wasn't always like this. My mother used to be very proper, very meticulous, very aware of social conventions. The ones that usually discourage people from wearing Groucho Marx glasses while singing Hey Good Looking in the middle of an airport.
Hannah's Mother: 20:15 I used to be very perfectionist oriented. Now, if things are perfect that's nice. If they're not so perfect, it's okay.
Hannah Palin: 20:29 It's all just okay.
Hannah's Mother: 20:34 Yeah. Everything is okay. I love sex now. I wasn't too crazy about it before. I don't know what the difference is but I'm just more open to that kind of thing now.
Hannah Palin: 20:51 We also like to sing now.
Hannah's Mother: 20:53 Oh yes. I love to sing.
Hannah Palin: 20:56 I don't remember you singing before.
Hannah's Mother: 20:58 No. There's something about that experience that was very freeing.
Hannah Palin: 21:06 My mother's illness, like a death or an accident, was one of those moments when time stops. When normal disappears. When you marvel that everyone else in the world can still laugh and go to the movies and complain about the weather. That's an explosion. In those moments you can see life happen. It has clarity and meaning and purpose in the midst of its horror and pain. Then those moments pass and you're consumed by the trivia of daily life once again. Sometimes when I'm overwhelmed by the task of making my way through the world, I try to focus on the fact that the electric bill does not matter, the idiot driver glued to their cell phone does not matter, the mind numbing day job truly does not matter.
Hannah Palin: 22:03 Welcoming the strange and the different, being open and available for my husband, my friends, my family, experiencing love and laughter as often as possible, that's what matters. It can all be taken away in one brilliant flash.
Hannah Palin: 22:30 Do you feel different than other people?
Hannah's Mother: 22:34 I don't know. I don't know how other people fell. I do know that I don't worry about death at all. Not at all. I've kind of seen it and I've been there. That's very liberating.
Hannah Palin: 22:53 Did you have any memory of near death experience?
Hannah's Mother: 22:56 No. A lot of people have asked me that. I didn't ...
Hannah Palin: 22:59 Didn't see the white light or anything ...
Hannah's Mother: 23:03 No.
Hannah Palin: 23:03 [crosstalk 00:23:03] on the other side or anything?
Hannah's Mother: 23:05 Not unless being a farmer, a vegetable farmer in Vietnam, in the other side. That could be what heaven's all about. Being a vegetable farmer in Vietnam. Maybe that's the whole thing.
Jad Abumrad: 23:33 That's producer Hannah Palin with a story she calls The Day My Mother's Head Exploded. Thanks to Jack Straw 00:23:38 Productions for helping her tell that story.
Robert Krulwich: 23:40 I've never heard a version of heaven quite like that.
Jad Abumrad: 23:42 Isn't that amazing?
Robert Krulwich: 23:43 I'm trying to think where would ... My heaven ... I don't know. Last night in my dreams, actually, I was in a cafeteria with a lot of writers, all of them wearing wire rim glasses?
Jad Abumrad: 23:53 Did it feel like heaven to you?
Robert Krulwich: 23:55 It felt good.
Jad Abumrad: 23:56 Before we go to break, I played the story you just heard for a neuropsychologist in the UK. His name is Paul Broks. Wrote an incredible book called Into the Silent Land, and he said and interesting thing to me. We are all just a car crash or a slip away from being a different person.
Paul Broks: 24:12 That's right. That's precisely how I felt the very first time I went into one of these neurological rehabilitation centers. I suddenly felt very fragile. That in an instant we can be completely transformed. Of course, it's not just the person who's affected, the person who's injured who's affected. It's also the people around them.
Paul Broks: 24:35 There's an interesting little anecdote of this as I was with someone who'd had a severe head injury. I went to see them at home. I did some work with him at home and he got very angry at one point. Got very tired of doing my tests and threw all the test materials on the floor. His wife came in eventually. He calmed down. I just said to her later on, "How do you cope with this when that happens." She said something that really interested me. She said, "Well, when it happens I think it's not really him. It's not really Jeff."
Jad Abumrad: 25:06 Wow.
Paul Broks: 25:07 "It's not really him." Paradoxically, what kept her with him and kept her supporting him was the belief that at some level it really was him. I think we kind of ... people in that situation have this kind of paradoxical survival strategy that, "Well, yes. They have to accept that it's not the person. It's not really them," but on another level, why are they still with them?
Jad Abumrad: 25:29 Is there something ... that believe thought, that it could possibly be true. Is there something that doesn't change? I don't know. Some people might call it a soul. Do you believe in something like that or is everything purely as fragile as you say?
Paul Broks: 25:48 I personally don't believe in an immaterial soul. I think in a case like his, let's call him Jeff, you'd have to ask, "What's happened to Jeff's soul? What's happened to Jeff's soul in this situation? Has the soul also been mutilated along with the brain?" I think I would suggest that the notion there is a sort of immaterial soul, which some people might believe departs the body at death and some people might believe it takes on another body in a future life. That's an illusion, I think.
Paul Broks: 26:20 Other people take a different line on this. Other people do believe there is self stuff, or soul stuff somewhere. The question is I've put, where? Where is it?
Jad Abumrad: 26:29 In the brain? Is it possible we just haven't dug deep enough and found it?
Paul Broks: 26:34 How would you know when you found it? What would you be looking for?
Jad Abumrad: 26:39 I don't know.
Paul Broks: 26:39 I have no idea what you'd expect to find. What is it you would expect to see? How would you ever know when you saw a soul?
Jad Abumrad: 26:49 What makes you, Paul Broks, you. Your personality. What makes you consistent from one day to the next? What makes you a personality?
Paul Broks: 26:56 Yeah. What makes me consistent is that I have the same body, more or less, from day to day. I look in the mirror and it's me, usually. For a fact, it's always me. It's never anybody else. Essentially, what I tell you, and if you were to ask me about myself is I'll tell you a story.
Jad Abumrad: 27:15 If I'm understanding you correctly, our selves are simply a narrative. A sort of narrative center?
Paul Broks: 27:23 The extended self, which is what we normally think of when we think about ourselves is really a story. It's a story of what's happened to that body over time.
Jad Abumrad: 27:34 Paul Broks is a neuropsychologist and author of the book Into the Silent Land. This is Radiolab. I'm Jad Abumrad. Robert Krulwich and I will continue in a moment.
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Jad Abumrad: 29:34 I'm Jad Abumrad. Today on Radiolab, Robert Krulwich and I are tackling the question which is very big in neuroscience at the moment. What makes you you? Sounds actually like a childlike question, and it is, except no one really knows the answer. Before the station ID, we heard one scientist's theory. That the self or the mind or even the soul is nothing a story the brain tells itself.
Robert Krulwich: 29:59 Listening to what was the name of that guy?
Jad Abumrad: 30:01 Paul Broks.
Robert Krulwich: 30:02 Paul Broks. The notion that what you are, what a self if, is just a story you tell has some scientific authority behind it.
Jad Abumrad: 30:14 Does it? I actually didn't exactly know what he's talking about.
Robert Krulwich: 30:17 VS Ramachandran, who's a world famous neurologist also believes that what is peculiarly human about us is our ability to construct stories. He says this ability is new or relatively new. It happened at a particularly moment in time and he things he knows about when.
VS Ramachandran: 30:36 Maybe 200,000 years ago, half a million years ago, something absolutely astonishing happened.
Jad Abumrad: 30:42 What?
VS Ramachandran: 30:42 The evolution of introspective consciousness and the evolution of the self.
Jad Abumrad: 30:47 The evolution of introspective consciousness. What does that mean?
Robert Krulwich: 30:51 Let's do this simply and back up for a minute.
Jad Abumrad: 30:53 Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Robert Krulwich: 30:54 There are different sets of creatures in the world. There are dumb ones, there are smarter ones, and then there's us.
Jad Abumrad: 30:59 Okay.
Robert Krulwich: 31:00 Let's just choose, say, a worm for our dumb [inaudible 00:31:03]. Imagine you're a worm. You're crawling through the ground like worms like to do and you bump into a pebble. Here's what a worm doesn't do. A worm doesn't think, "Dang. I can't seem to move this pebble."
Jad Abumrad: 31:14 Uh-huh.
Robert Krulwich: 31:15 Because a worm doesn't have a brain big enough or a nervous system strong enough to support the idea of dang, me, pebble.
Jad Abumrad: 31:22 Certainly not dang.
Robert Krulwich: 31:25 I'm not a worm, but as far as VS Ramachandran is concerned, inside the worms head there is no picture at all. There's just a set of inherited instincts. No pictures in that worms head, no story there.
Jad Abumrad: 31:36 Okay.
Robert Krulwich: 31:37 Let's step up into another level of creature. Give me a creature. It has to be a more complex one.
Jad Abumrad: 31:42 Okay. How about going back to the monkey?
Robert Krulwich: 31:43 Okay. Monkey. Monkey's swinging through trees, monkey sees a lady monkey. The lady money, if it has a red ... how should I put this, bottom, then the lady monkey is interested in sex. If you notice, says, Dr. Ramachandran, if that rump is ...
VS Ramachandran: 32:00 Red. Red rumps of female primates.
Jad Abumrad: 32:04 I like the way he said red rumps.
VS Ramachandran: 32:05 I claim a monkey, after seeing red, can react to it. Maybe can even remember the red and do the appropriate reaction.
Robert Krulwich: 32:13 The appropriate reaction in this case would be to grab that lady monkey and make a baby with her. This monkey pulls an image of another monkey, makes an association, and so there's images in the monkey's head, but now here's something the monkey can't do.
VS Ramachandran: 32:28 It can't juggle the symbol red in its head.
Robert Krulwich: 32:32 If I said to a monkey, "See that Volvo over there? That white Volvo? Let's make it a red Volvo." Any human being can take a white car and make it in their imagination [crosstalk 00:32:42]
VS Ramachandran: 32:42 He can paste red on it in his imagination.
Robert Krulwich: 32:44 A monkey, you don't think can do.
VS Ramachandran: 32:45 It cannot do.
Robert Krulwich: 32:46 This is so simple for a human being to do. Let's run through a quick exercise.
Jad Abumrad: 32:50 Okay.
Robert Krulwich: 32:50 Imagine for me a bird in your head. Got a bird in there?
Jad Abumrad: 32:53 Yeah. What kind of bird?
Robert Krulwich: 32:55 A canary.
Jad Abumrad: 32:56 Yes. Now it's there.
Robert Krulwich: 32:57 Is it there?
Jad Abumrad: 32:57 It's there.
Robert Krulwich: 32:58 Make it into a brilliantly red canary.
Jad Abumrad: 33:02 Uh. Like kind of a cardinal but a canary's body? It's there.
Robert Krulwich: 33:06 That's right. Now make it into a striped canary.
Jad Abumrad: 33:08 Striped. What color stripes?
Robert Krulwich: 33:09 Purple.
Jad Abumrad: 33:10 Purple.
Robert Krulwich: 33:11 Purple stripes.
Jad Abumrad: 33:12 Purple stripes on a red canary. Wait. Hold up. Purple stripes on a red canary. Got it.
Robert Krulwich: 33:18 Is it in there now?
Jad Abumrad: 33:19 It's there. In all its vivid glory.
Robert Krulwich: 33:22 Ornithological stripedness is not one of your favorite ... All right. At this moment, I'm going to point out something to you. There is no such thing as a purple striped red canary in the world. You could search the world and never find one.
Jad Abumrad: 33:35 That does not surprise me.
Robert Krulwich: 33:36 You got one now in your head, however lamely, it's in there somewhere. Only a human being could do this because only humans can take images from the real world, pull them into their heads, divide them into parts, and then start turning those parts into abstractions. Monkeys, says, Ramachandran, can't do that.
VS Ramachandran: 33:56 A monkey can be trained to think of a bug. Ring a bell and show it a bug. The fifth time you just ring a bell, presumably it's conjuring up an image of a bug. You cannot only train a human to think of a bug. You can train a human to think of babies, but not the human can think of a bug's wings on a human baby. Conjure an angel, which is he has never seen. This is because he is now has what are called tokens. He has created disembodied tokens.
Robert Krulwich: 34:29 Color is a token.
VS Ramachandran: 34:29 Wings.
Robert Krulwich: 34:30 Big is a token. Adjectives are tokens.
VS Ramachandran: 34:32 Adjectives are tokens. Then he can manipulate these tokens, juxtapose them in counterintuitive ways. He can create even outlandish scenarios. What we call imagination.
Jad Abumrad: 34:51 Let me see if I can get this straight. You've got the worm who can sense the world, sort of, and then you've got the money who can pull the world in to some degree and make an association.
Robert Krulwich: 35:01 Right.
Jad Abumrad: 35:02 Then you got us and we can play with those associations.
Robert Krulwich: 35:05 Right.
Jad Abumrad: 35:06 How did that happen?
Robert Krulwich: 35:09 Evolution. We're not different from other creatures. We're just more than other creatures. When we have these brains that have this extra ... it's like a layer on layer cake, we can manipulate any idea at all. We're constantly doing that. We're constantly abstracting, we are imagining so often, so thoroughly and so well that we eventually can imagine ourself. I can sit here and look right at you and I can see you right now as Jad the little boy, if I want, or Jad the old dying man, if I want, or Jad with purple stripes and an elegant set of taffeta wings.
Robert Krulwich: 35:49 The idea of self, if you think about it this way, is you take all the things that have ever happened to you, pluck from your life ... If you're sad you might pluck the sad things. If you're happy, [inaudible 00:35:59] you might pluck the happy things, and you stitch them together into a general abstract idea. Me, then, an idea of self is really a story that we tell ourselves. It can change from day to day, and it allows the human being to exercise that peculiarly human muscle to experience stuff and then to abstract it into a story. That's self.
Jad Abumrad: 36:39 This is Radiolab. Jad here with Robert Krulwich. This makes more sense to me now. I think. This idea that the brain spins a story moment to moment as you're walking about and that story is you, yourself. If it's so automatic does it even happen when we sleep?
Robert Krulwich: 36:59 Why do you ask that?
Jad Abumrad: 37:01 I asked Paul Broks this question.
Robert Krulwich: 37:03 Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Jad Abumrad: 37:04 He told me something really strange. Something that made me think that maybe when we're asleep the brain loosens it's grip on the self.
Robert Krulwich: 37:11 Hmm.
Jad Abumrad: 37:11 That the self tumbles into a thousand parts. Or creatures. I don't know. What he told me, basically, is that when he was young he would have these dreams where he'd see these things, these parts of himself presumably. The dream would be going along fine. Everything would be normal, and then all of a sudden along would come these little people.
Paul Broks: 37:31 Yes, literally little people. There were hoards of these little creatures. I'd see them in a great pageant sweeping by. Occasionally, they would come up and I've sensed they're kind of looking at me but then they go away again and I just [crosstalk 00:37:44].
Jad Abumrad: 37:44 They were aware of you.
Paul Broks: 37:47 That's a very eerie thought. It's my brain that was producing them, as well as producing me.
Robert Krulwich: 37:54 That's such a strange thing. He really means little people.
Jad Abumrad: 37:59 Yeah. Oddly enough, he discovered he wasn't alone.
Paul Broks: 38:01 Which is why I was very fascinated by Robert Louis Stevenson because his descriptions were very similar to the sort of things I experienced.
Jad Abumrad: 38:07 Robert Louis Stevenson. You know the author?
Robert Krulwich: 38:09 Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Jad Abumrad: 38:09 One of the most important writers of the 19th century. Apparently, he saw them too.
Actor: 38:13 The little people who managed man's internal theory.
Jad Abumrad: 38:16 That's how he describes them in one particular essay, read for us here by an actor, Joshua [Cain 00:38:21]. For anyone who's ever wondered, where do dreams come from? Where does an idea come from? This essay is an interesting read. And confusing. First of all Stevenson always refers to himself in the third person he ...
Actor: 38:35 This honest fellow.
Jad Abumrad: 38:36 Or the dreamer.
Actor: 38:37 The dreamer.
Jad Abumrad: 38:37 Not sure why. Maybe it's not so strange considering the rest of the essay is about little people in his mind. In any case, what he writes is that at first, the stories they acted out for him were ... they didn't make any sense.
Actor: 38:50 The little people played upon their stage like children rather than like drilled actors performing a set piece to a huge hall of face.
Jad Abumrad: 38:57 Over time, and interesting thing happens. Stevenson decides to become a writer.
Actor: 39:01 To write and sell his tales.
Jad Abumrad: 39:04 Things change.
Actor: 39:05 There was he and here were the little people who did that part of his business in quite anew conditions.
Jad Abumrad: 39:10 Not the little people weren't just the things he saw in his dreams. They were a business opportunity. See, he was broke always, and had to crank out the stories so very much in the spirit of the industrial revolution, he decides to exploit his little people. Turn them into a story telling factory. Which meant he writes ...
Actor: 39:31 The stories must now be trimmed and paired and set upon all fours. They must run from a beginning to an end and fit with the laws of life. The pleasure in one word had become a business, and that not only for the dreamer, but for the little people of his dreamer. They understood the change as well as he.
Robert Krulwich: 39:50 Then what happens?
Jad Abumrad: 39:55 He needs stories he can sell, so he trains his little people. This is what he writes in his essay. He trains them.
Robert Krulwich: 40:02 What do you mean?
Jad Abumrad: 40:03 He had this elaborate pre-bedtime ritual. He would lie on the bed, feet off, raise one arm, close his eyes.
Robert Krulwich: 40:11 Raises his arm.
Jad Abumrad: 40:13 Yeah. It was a signal for the little people of his mind to tell him a story, and man, it better be a good one.
Actor: 40:20 Behold, at once, the little people begin to bestir themselves in the same quest and labor all night long.
Extras: 40:28 Places everyone.
Jad Abumrad: 40:28 What he did not realize was just how good they could be?
Actor: 40:33 Here is one exactly as it came. It seemed this time that the dreamer was the son of a very rich and wicked man. The owner of Broad Acres and the most damnable temper. The son had been living abroad on purpose to avoid his father. When he returned, he was to find his father married again to a young wife. Because of this marriage, as the dreamer indistinctly understood, it was desirable for the father and son to have a meeting. Yet, both being proud and both angry, neither would condescend on a visit, but meet they did accordingly in a desolate sandy country by the sea.
Son: 41:13 To the shore please driver.
Extras: 41:14 Yes, sir. Watch your step.
Actor: 41:17 There they quarreled.
Son: 41:18 How dare you?
Father: 41:19 You selfish bastard.
Actor: 41:21 The son, stung by some intolerable insult struck the father dead. No suspicion was aroused. The dead man was found and buried. The dreamer succeeded to the Broad Estates.
Extras: 41:39 To the rigging. To the rigging.
Actor: 41:43 And found himself installed under the same roof with his father's widow.
Daughter in Law: 41:46 Good evening.
Son: 41:48 Madam.
Daughter in Law: 41:48 Will you join me for supper?
Actor: 41:51 These two lived very much alone as people may after a bereavement. Sat down to the table together. Shared long evenings.
Daughter in Law: 41:59 Brandy.
Son: 42:00 Yes, please.
Actor: 42:01 And grew daily better friends.
Daughter in Law: 42:03 Oh the West Garden is so lovely this time of year.
Son: 42:07 Has that old plum tree gone to flower already?
Daughter in Law: 42:09 Oh yes. Do you recall it?
Son: 42:11 Yes, yes. I used to climb it as a boy.
Daughter in Law: 42:15 Did your father teach you how to climb trees?
Son: 42:18 No. No he didn't.
Actor: 42:22 Until it seemed to him suddenly that she was prying about dangerous matters. That she had conceived a notion of his guilt. That she watched him and tried him with questions. They lived at cross purposes. A life full of broken dialogue, challenging glances, and suppressed passion. Until one day he saw the woman slipping from the house in a veil.
Daughter in Law: 42:46 To the station please.
Extras: 42:47 Yes mam.
Actor: 42:48 He followed her by train to the seaside country and out of the sand hills to the very place where the murder was done. There she began to grope among the fence.
Daughter in Law: 42:57 There's got to be something here.
Actor: 43:00 He's watching her flat upon his face and presently she had something in her hand.
Daughter in Law: 43:07 This is it.
Actor: 43:08 Cannot remember what it was, but it was deadly evidence against the dreamer. Then she held it up to look at it. Perhaps from the shock of the discovery. Her foot slipped.
Daughter in Law: 43:20 Oh no.
Actor: 43:20 He hung in some peril on the brink of the tall sand reeds.
Daughter in Law: 43:22 Somebody please. Help me.
Actor: 43:28 He had no thought but to spring up and rescue her.
Son: 43:31 Take my hand.
Actor: 43:32 There they stood face to face. She, with that deadly matter openly in her hand. His very presence on the spot. Another link of proof.
Daughter in Law: 43:44 But ...
Actor: 43:45 It was plain she was about to speak.
Daughter in Law: 43:46 How?
Actor: 43:48 This was more than he could bear.
Son: 43:50 Come.
Actor: 43:51 He cut her short of the conversation.
Son: 43:53 Let's be going.
Actor: 43:58 The past evening in the drawing room as in the past.
Extras: 44:00 Tea, madam?
Daughter in Law: 44:01 Yes, please.
Extras: 44:02 Sir.
Son: 44:03 Thank you.
Actor: 44:03 That suspense and fear drummed in the dreamer's bosom.
Son: 44:07 Why has she not denounced me yet? When will she? Will it be tomorrow?
Actor: 44:11 His thoughts ran. Once indeed, he sees an occasion when she was abroad. He ransacked her room.
Son: 44:17 She's hidden it.
Actor: 44:19 At last, hidden away among her jewels, he found the damning evidence.
Son: 44:24 Oh my god.
Actor: 44:25 There he stood holding this thing which was his life in the hollow of his hand and marveling at her behavior that she should seek and keep and yet not use it. Then the door opened, and behold herself.
Daughter in Law: 44:41 What's my line?
Son: 44:41 What are you doing?
Daughter in Law: 44:44 What are you doing?
Actor: 44:46 Once more they stood eye to eye with the evidence between them.
Son: 44:48 No.
Actor: 44:51 Before he left the room he laid back down his death warrant where he had found it. At that, her face lit up. The next he heard she was lying to her maid.
Extras: 45:03 Oh my goodness. What happened to your room? A robbery.
Daughter in Law: 45:06 Oh no, no, no. It's nothing. I'm embarrassed, really. I thought I lost something you see and I was looking everywhere.
Actor: 45:14 Flesh and blood could bear the strain no longer. I think it was the next morning, through chronology is always hazy in the theater of the mind, that he burst from his reserve.
Extras: 45:22 Bacon, sir?
Son: 45:23 No, thank you.
Extras: 45:24 Your tea, madam?
Daughter in Law: 45:25 Please.
Extras: 45:25 Sugar?
Son: 45:27 Please. That will be all.
Actor: 45:28 No sooner were the servants gone and the two protagonists alone together, but he lept to his feet. She too [spried 00:45:35] up with a pale face.
Son: 45:36 Why do you not denounce me? You know everything? Why do you torture me?
Actor: 45:40 He fell upon her knees. With outstretched hands ...
Daughter in Law: 45:43 Do you not understand? I love you.
Actor: 45:56 Here upon with a kind of wonder and mercantile delight, the dreamer awoke. That his mercantile delight was not endurance as it became plain that in this spirited tale there were unmarketable elements.
Jad Abumrad: 46:11 Ultimately, Robert Louis Stevenson found this story unusable and he couldn't sell it, but there's a deeper question here. A question of authorship. Let's think about it in more modern terms. When you see a movie and the lights go down, you settle in, from one moment to the next you the viewer had no idea what's going to happen. You scream at the scary parts, laugh at the jokes, cry during the sad scenes. You're taken on a ride, but in order for you to have that experience someone needed to write the movie, someone needed to direct it. Someone other than you.
Jad Abumrad: 46:43 How is it when we dream we do all three at the same time. We write, direct, and watch the film as if we've never seen it before?
Actor: 46:51 The little people are substantive inventors and performers. To the end they had kept their secret. The dreamer had to guess whatever at the motive of the woman, the hinge of the whole well invented plot, until the instant of the dramatic revelation. It was not his tale. It was the little people's. I am awake now and I know this trade, and yet, I cannot better it. The more I think of it, the more I am move the press upon the world my question: who are the little people?
Paul Broks: 47:29 It was almost like watching a video. You could sort of go and inspect their activities, scrutinize their activities very closely.
Jad Abumrad: 47:36 That's how neurologist Paul Broks describes his little people dreams.
Paul Broks: 47:39 It kind of fascinated me that this was part of me ... part of my brain activity, but not me. Which part of my brain activity is me?
Jad Abumrad: 47:48 If it seems there's a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde quality to the mystery of the little people, that is no coincidence. On another night, our dreamer, Robert Louis Stevenson, captivated by the little people screamed so loudly his wife wakes him.
Robert's wife: 48:02 Robert! Robert, darling. Wake up! What's wrong?
Jad Abumrad: 48:05 He was not pleased.
Robert L. S.: 48:06 Dammit, woman. I have been dreaming a fine boogie tale.
Jad Abumrad: 48:09 He did manage to remember a few things from the dream. One, a scene at the window. Then, a man pursued for a crime. That mind takes a potion and undergoes a transformation. That man's name, of course, would become Mr. Hyde and our dreamer, Robert Louis Stevenson, the author of that classic tail of a divided self.
Jad Abumrad: 48:41 The story of Robert Louis Stevenson's little people came from an essay from Paul Broks, from his excellent book, Into the Silent Land, and it was adapted for radio by [Ellen Horn 00:48:49]. Joshua Cain was the voice of Robert Louis Stevenson from his essay, a chapter on dreams, and he had a sporting cast of [Lorraine Maddox 00:48:57], [John Henry Boudreax 00:48:57], [Frank Boudreax 00:48:58], [Nick Capadeech 00:49:00], [Sally Herships 00:49:00], and [Keith Scott 00:49:03]. If anyone was listening closely they would have also recognized you, Robert Krulwich, on that seaside cliff.
Robert Krulwich: 49:08 Dying.
Jad Abumrad: 49:09 Dying.
Robert Krulwich: 49:09 Yes. [Vivilen 00:49:10]. Here's the thing, what is hard to recognize if you take a look into somebody's brain and you ask the question, which we've been asking this whole hour like, who's there, or where is the author, or where is am I, the story points up. That if you look scientifically into a brain, what you encounter is hundreds of thousands of players. Not just little people, but teeny teeny teeny teeny brain cells, which do all this flashing back and forth. If you were to go to any one of those cells and say, "So, are you the author of Jekyll and Hyde?," the cell would just ...
Jad Abumrad: 49:50 Right. The vocabulary of a neuron is just on or off.
Robert Krulwich: 49:53 It is only in the group that you can see the electrical outline of a though, or ultimately of a self. While you think of yourself as a one, even the thought I am a one, springs from a hundred million cells connecting through a trillion synapses, and that all of this multiple activity paradoxically creates the you of this moment. You are always plural.
Jad Abumrad: 50:24 That's especially true in the story we have coming up for you in 60 seconds. This is Radiolab. I'm Jad Abumrad. Robert Krulwich and I will continue in a moment.
Announcements: 50:31 You're listening to Radiolab on New York public radio WNYZ. Hi, this is Anna from Boston, Massachusets. Radiolab is supported in part by the National Science Foundation and by the Alfred P. Sloan foundation, enhancing public understanding of science and technology in the modern world. More information about Sloan at www.sloan.org.
Jad Abumrad: 51:10 Jad here, with Robert Krulwich today on Radiolab. An hour on the self. How it is that out of a trillion chattering neurons in your brain arises the greatest illusion of all. That you are one thing, one self.
Robert Krulwich: 51:24 To extent this a little bit, another step ... while we spent the whole time talking about what it is to be a one or where is our self, there are times when you learn that the self is not got a Berlin Wall around it. We are porous. Our borders are full of leaks. Robert Sapolsky 00:51:48 is biologist. He studies baboons in East Africa. He wrote an essay which I read, and the essay it the story of his dad. Robert has a dad like we all do. This day I've suffered from a condition that resembles Alzheimer's. His father was forgetting things, what decade it was, where he was, but he was also beginning to melt into the son.
Robert Krulwich: 52:10 The dad was beginning to tell stories, but really, the son's stories. It was all kinds of things.
Robert Sapolsky: 52:16 Things like I moved from New York to the Bay Area at that point and suddenly of his immigration changed from when we left Europe and came to Ellis Island to when we left Europe and entered the United States of the San Francisco Bay, including his describing first sight of the Golden Gate Bridge. Golden Gate Bridge which was built decades after he came to the United States. Completely confabulated.
Robert Krulwich: 52:42 San Diego was involved?
Robert Sapolsky: 52:43 San Diego. I was in San Diego for a period and he suddenly had spent long periods of time in San Diego in the Navy in World War II so that he was able to have the same opinion and share the same ... Just the edges of him spilling over into me.
Robert Krulwich: 52:59 Did that make you feel a little claustrophobic?
Robert Sapolsky: 53:01 A little claustrophobic, and being a good scientist, of course, what I did instantly was try to label it and come up with diagnostic categories and pathologize it and keep it at a safe distance. It was all fairly unnerving. What this particular essay was about that I had written was amid all of that confident pathologizing, it was only after he died that I suddenly found myself doing the same in return.
Robert Krulwich: 53:30 Let me read you some of what Robert Sapolsky wrote about this experience. It started manageably enough. I arranged the utensils as he did, hummed a favorite Yiddish tune of his throughout the day. Soon I had forsaken wearing my blue flannel shirts in order to wear the blue flannel ones of his.
Robert Sapolsky: 53:50 I took a shirt of his. A flannel shirt. Back before global warming, would always wear flannel shirts, and for a while I had to wear his flannel shirt instead or he had heart disease and the little bottles of nitroglycerin all over the house. There was this period where in the immediate aftermath of his dying, I took a bottle of this nitroglycerin back with me and found I had to keep it with me physically all the time.
Robert Krulwich: 54:17 You didn't have heart trouble?
Robert Sapolsky: 54:19 I had no heart trouble. I was a 30 year old ...
Robert Krulwich: 54:23 You were walking around with this nitroglycerin like it's your blankie? Like you don't want to give it up?
Robert Sapolsky: 54:26 No. On some level, I needed to have nitroglycerin with my handy in case I had one of his angina attacks.
Robert Krulwich: 54:40 He writes, "I would make love to my wife, work out in the gym, attend a lecture and always the bottle would be nearby on a nightstand, in a sweat jacket pocket, amid my papers. There was a day where I briefly misplaced it and everything stopped for an anxious search. It was not that I'd lost a holy relic of his suffering, an object to show my children someday to teach them about a man they hadn't known. This was urgent. I felt vulnerable."
Robert Sapolsky: 55:08 Very hard to articulate, but during that period, also, I had a large class I was going and on the last day of the lecture I found I gave this weird lecture where essentially I was talking to them like an octogenarian. You don't believe it now because you're 20, you're going to get tired ...
Robert Krulwich: 55:27 You're going to get tired.
Robert Sapolsky: 55:28 You're going to get tired and it's just going to get harder and harder.
Robert Krulwich: 55:31 This, from the tired old 30 year old.
Robert Sapolsky: 55:33 Yeah. Exactly. I was talking to them as an 80 year old, and talking to them ...
Robert Krulwich: 55:38 Did you wake up to that notion in the middle of it? Did you suddenly think, "Hey, what am I doing?," or did it just [crosstalk 00:55:41]
Robert Sapolsky: 55:41 No. Only after that evening trying to figure out what the hell was that about, instead of telling them about what's going to be on the final. Telling them you should be happy, call your mother, and wait a second. Call me as long as you're at it. It can hurt you to call now and then?
Robert Krulwich: 56:02 When you had finished the lecture to the kids and had been speaking through the voice of your dad, how did you unwind this connection or did it just fade away?
Robert Sapolsky: 56:12 Interestingly, I actually gave that lecture wearing his shirt. This was a very challenged period with the bottle of nitroglycerin in my pocket because I had it in my pocket at all times, and it was that night that I was able to put away the bottle and have it more in the shirt sense. On some level I was saying goodbye for him. Particularly, appropriately, to an auditorium awash in 500 20 year olds with their world ahead of them and sort of saying goodbye for him.
Robert Krulwich: 56:51 "A year later, that time has begun to make sense. I feel sure that what I went through need not merit a diagnosis. It's a measure of my trying as a scientist that I saw pathology that wasn't there."
Robert Sapolsky: 57:04 Essentially what that whole period was about was learning it is a perfectly normal non-pathological state to feel at times of extreme emotional challenge, that interconnected with another person that in some ways the boundaries slip a little bit.
Robert Krulwich: 57:20 "It can only come as an echo. A hint in our armored individuated world that a bit of confusion as to ego boundaries can be an act of health, of homage, and love. It can be a whisper of what it feels like to be swaddled in continuity. It is a lesson amid our ever expanding array of scientific label and the risks of over pathologizing. Most of all, it is a lesson that it wouldn't be so bad. In fact, it would even be a point of pride if in the end someone mistakes you for him."
Robert Krulwich: 57:54 My post question is did you ever say to your dad when he was ill, you didn't come to San Francisco? Did you ever direct him?
Robert Sapolsky: 58:06 Not a chance.
Robert Krulwich: 58:16 Robert Sapolsky is a biologist at Stanford University in California. He's written several collections of essays, but the one we're quote here is from The Trouble With Testosterone. That's where you find the story of his dad.
Jad Abumrad: 58:29 For more information on that, or anything else you heard tonight, check our website, Radiolab.org. While you're there, communicate with us. Radiolab at WYC.org is the address. Jad here. Robert and I are signing off now, but we will catch you next time.
Announcements: 58:46 This show was produced by Jad Abumrad and Alan Horn with help from [Brenda Farrow 00:58:52], Sally Herships, [Rob Kreager 00:58:58], [Amy Aleri 00:58:58], David Martin, [Michael Shelley 00:59:00], and Robert Krulwich. Special thanks to [Kara McCormink 00:59:05], Paul Brok, and [Elena Park 00:59:08], and special thanks to me too, [Nicky 00:59:11] Palin. Thanks for listening. Okay. Bye, bye.