Brains On TV, or The Spinning Kitchen

There was a programme about the brain on TV last night.

The program was essentially talking about how the autonomic system in the brain covers nearly all of what we do. And it asked what the role of consciousness and self awareness is.

In one part of the programme, they wired up the presenter and a young boy as they stood side by side and stacked cups. The boy was the world champion cup stacker and the presenter was a newbie at it.

When the team looked at the brain activity of the two of them they saw that the the presenter’s brain was lighting up. But boy’s brain was more or less at rest. Nothing very much was happening because he had hardwired the technique.

He practised – and that is how much of what we do goes from conscious effort to automatic.

The programme was a repeat of a screening about a year ago, but something must have interrupted my viewing the first time, because there were a couple of things on last night’s viewing that caught my attention.

One thing was that if you are warmer, you will respond more favourably to questions about your mother.

Another was that if you are next to cleaning or sanitising products you will give more politically conservative answers to questions.

With that background I want to talk about our kitchen.

The Kitchen

It’s a long time since I have lived in a house with kitchen units down opposite sides of the room. In my experience, kitchens are usually arranged with the units in an L shape. But for various reasons to do with windows, the units in this house are on opposite sides of the room.

And it is a wide kitchen, so it is a good pace or two from one side to the other.

I disliked it on sight because I remembered how unappealing it is to have to keep crossing the kitchen.

And in the first few weeks I was getting dizzy from turning, turning, around – back and forth.

Today, I noticed that I was not dizzy. I asked my wife, Tamara, and she too was not dizzy.

And with the benefit of the education from last night’s programme I see that we have successfully moved the effort from conscious effort to automatic. ๐Ÿ™‚


  1. According to what I was taught (oh so many years ago) your ‘L’ shaped kitchen was of the most ergonomic layout – a ‘work triangle’ I believe – to have no more than 2-3 metres between each of the cooktop, refrigerator and sink…


  2. “Another was that if you are next to cleaning or sanitising products you will give more politically conservative answers to questions.”
    Very interesting. I didn’t know about it, but I’ll keep it in mind the next time someone asks me political questions and I’m in my kitchen. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely – take them into the garden and get down in the dirt with them. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The human brain never ceases to fascinate.

    What IS consciousness really … how do I know that I am I?!


    1. I only have a fairly tenuous grip on ‘reality’ so questions like that unnerve me ๐Ÿ™‚


      1. Yeah … ‘reality’ … that would have been my next question ๐Ÿ™‚


    2. The programme on the brain suggested that consciousness is like a referee that decides what is in the best interest of the organism when different autonomic parts can’t resolve conflicting pathways. I guess ‘fight or flight’ might be an example of that.
      I’m not convinced by that argument, but then I am not convinced that existence just sprang up and just ‘is’.


      1. No, that wouldn’t convince me either, and not that it just sprang up either.


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