For centuries, many people have considered the workings of the mind to be mysterious and beyond comprehension. But the brain is an organ like any other, powered by biology and chemistry, and science is now learning how the mechanism works.
On Thursday, Aug. 19, ABC's "NightlinePrime" launches a four-episode series called "Secrets of Your Mind: Why We Do What We Do," which looks at the latest advances in understanding how the brain functions and affects behavior. Included is the work of neurosurgeon Dr. Julian Bailes from West Virginia University Hospital in Morgantown. W.Va.
"We did a couple of 'Nightline' shows (about him)," says executive producer James Goldston. "We were so inspired by the kind of work he was doing, we thought there might be a series in it. We did four separate hours. It's the first time that 'Nightline' has been doing prime-time television in a while, so that, in itself, is exciting for us."
Since Martin Bashir has departed "Nightline" for MSNBC, he won't be one of the anchors for the miniseries, but "Nightline" regulars Cynthia McFadden and Terry Moran will be on hand to guide viewers through the cutting-edge science.
According to producer Roxanna Sherwood, topics covered include the neuroscience of love and food, looking at how chemical signals in the brain affect how we feel about other people and about eating.Among the experiments: Couples head off on an exciting road trip to re-energize their relationships, with brain scans before and after to measure the effect, and a woman has electrodes implanted in her brain in an effort to switch off her appetite so she will lose weight.
The series also looks at the effect of trauma on the brain and whether it contributes to violent outbursts.Another episode follows Dr. Bailes into the operating room as he treats an epileptic patient and scrambles on-camera to deal with a burst aneurysm.