The Human Spark – Brain Matters



In Brain Matters, the third installment of the PBS special, The Human Spark, host Alan Alda looks within his own brain in order to give us insight as to just what makes humans unique.

After some three and a half billion years of life’s evolution on this planet – and after almost two million years since people recognizable as human first walked its surface – a new human burst upon the scene, apparently unannounced.

It was us. – from the website

The series aims to answer three questions.

  • What is the nature of human uniqueness?
  • Where did the Human Spark ignite, and when?
  • And perhaps most tantalizingly, why?

Through MRIs and EEGs, we discover the inner workings of the brain which provide for language acquisition, complex tool use and social interaction. Alda offers up his own images which show a critical network that comes alive when he is simply doing nothing – day-dreaming.

The Human Spark – Brain Matters airs on PBS on Wednesday, January 20, 2010. Check your local listings for times.


Part One – Becoming Us
View the full episode here.

Part Two – So Human, So Chimp
View the full episode here.

Part Three – Brain Matters
View the full episode here.

Erin Matlock About the author, Erin Matlock
Erin Matlock is and advocate, speaker and advisor working in the brain health and mental health markets. Catch up with her at

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