See Australian television personality Todd Sampson put brain training to the test as he undergoes a radical brain makeover in a three-part documentary series on the revolutionary new science of brain plasticity.
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2   1  
2015   2013  
1 win & 4 nominations. See more awards »

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Todd Sampson
(6 episodes, 2013-2015)
Michael Merzenich ...
 Himself (4 episodes, 2013-2015)
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Australian television personality Todd Sampson puts brain training to the test as he undergoes a radical brain makeover. The cutting edge new science of brain plasticity has found that anyone can become smarter, improve their memory and reverse mental aging with the right brain training. It can turn an ordinary brain into a super brain in just three months. Written by Mindful Media

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10 October 2013 (Australia)  »

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Aivot uuteen kuosiin  »

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Possibly an important TV series...then again, maybe not...
29 April 2014 | by (Australia) – See all my reviews

I've been searching for my notes on this TV series without any luck, so, I'll just have to wing it here. From memory, I was looking at scoring it 90% but - and it's a big but - the score depends on how useful the series actually is. By that I mean this...you remember that Nintendo hand-held gaming device (the DS?) and games like "Brain training"? Since I didn't actually have that device, I'm just going on memory here. Now, I'm sure there would have been commercials on TV for that game making all sorts of claims about the benefits of playing this game (something that the host of "Redesign my brain" (i.e. Todd Sampson) would be all too well aware of, being a fixture on the advertising deconstruction "Gruen" series of panel shows on ABC TV (Australia). Well, I'm pretty sure I've come across articles in the media since that game came out showing that playing the game really had no cognitive benefits for players. If it turns out that Todd's programme here is in the same boat, well, you'd just have to mark the series down as a result, right?

With that in mind, I have to say that I found the series (well, mainly for the first one or two episodes of this three part series) brilliant. From memory, the first episode introduced some computer related 'games' which were designed to improve certain mental functions...things like peripheral vision, reasoning etc. At the time of broadcasting, the host broadcaster had a link to an outside website which ran those same 'tests' and you could compare your results to Todd's in the programme. That's probably not available any more but I did partake in the process. Can't say that I can always compare apples to apples here, but one of the marks against these 'tests' were the seemingly random results I generated. First time, I think, I had the IQ of a lump of wood, apparently. In other 'tests' for the same (similar?) activity, I was apparently in the top echelon of players...not a scientist here, but something like in the 99th percentile (?). So, already, I am asterisking the 'tests' that Todd engaged in and asserted to have some benefit to participants.

Maybe I should point out that much of the content in this series overlapped with similar programmes from other countries, like "Test your brain", amongst others, no doubt. Whilst enjoying programmes like that, it just seemed to me that Todd went out of his way to make this kind of stuff accessible to the ordinary viewer (via links to websites which ran these kinds of exercises).

Todd also makes claims for the mental benefits of juggling and in the last episode (from memory) he does a Houdini by manacling himself and sinking to the bottom of a swimming pool, in order to escape. Again, there was a big "So?" factor for me here. I.e. whilst no doubt being cool to escape such shackles and rise to the surface, does this ability in any way improve one's general mental functioning? I don't know. Todd seems to think that it does. Who knows? Todd?

Like a reviewer in The Age's Green Guide TV liftout, I have to be admit to being quietly amused when Todd is tasked by a scientist to create a vehicle, McGyver style (from memory). Todd seems really peeved with the scientist for giving him such a low score. It just made me think how Todd would have reacted to one of his employees (he runs an advertising company) coming up with the 'brilliant' idea to flog a product using a jingle...or cheerleaders? It just seemed to me that Todd was being too needy for affirmation by the scientist when his work didn't really warrant it.

One scribble I did find on this series concerned a puzzle Todd had to solve using matches (episode 2). I thought I got a better/smarter answer than what Todd did. In case you don't watch this series, my notes show that Todd's solution to a puzzle was "V = V = V". My solution was "X = V + V". Those are Roman numerals, of course. Hopefully my answer is valid. Just trying to demonstrate that an 'ordinary' person like myself could surpass Todd and his 'redesigned' brain. Just remembered now that Todd also made a mistake in naming three consecutive days (or something of the sort). I also made a mistake, but not sure if it couldn't have counted. I.e. my 'mistake' was to suggest "Christmas eve, Christmas and Boxing day" as an answer to the posed question. Todd did provide the 'correct' answer on another attempt. Maybe it's how you frame the question?

Have read criticism in the media by some (I think) that this project of Todd's was narcissistic. I would interpret that as meaning that Todd obviously has a certain level of intelligence in order to be a successful businessman and media person, as he is. It's not a big issue for me, though...although I did point out his 'neediness' in that construction exercise earlier.

My profile at this site does have a link to a website which was linked to via the host broadcasters webpage for this programme when it was running here.

It would be nice to think that Todd has enabled people to 'train their brain' to be better, faster, smarter. If not, he has done a very good job selling the feeling that it does!

P.S. I remembered something I probably mentioned in my original notes on this: I was reflecting on what activities Todd's computer exercises could be useful for. It occurred to me (as a layperson) that maybe it could be useful for, say, a F1 driver (as far as peripheral vision and information processing goes. Lifesaving, perhaps?), which might suggest that the areas ofhuman endeavour where Todd's exercises can be of use might be very small indeed!


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