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An innovation party!

Food for thought from ad exec, adventurer and Redesign My Brain star Todd Sampson: “We are at the foothills of what the brain can do; we are just beginning to understand this magnificent thing we have in our head.”

At the height of the 2015 Christmas-party season, the crowd at the Sydney soirée to celebrate Breakthrough, a documentary series GE made with National Geographic, was testament to curiosity about the show, and the chance to pick the now famously flexible brain of guest speaker Sampson. That the event was on the same day that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced his National Innovation and Science Agenda and called for an Ideas Boom was simple serendipity.

Guests included an array of GE customers from the worlds of healthcare, power, gas, water and aviation. GEreports was there to pose a few brain teasers on the red carpet, ahead of the screening of ‘Decoding the Brain’, the series episode directed by Hollywood heavyweight Brett Ratner. (A second cocktail party celebrating Breakthrough entertained GE customers in Melbourne the following evening.)

Geoff Culbert, President and CEO of GE Australia, NZ and PNG welcomed guests and explained how GE had “partnered with National Geographic to get a bunch of Hollywood directors to film six different documentaries looking at science, technology and innovation breakthroughs … we’ve covered some really interesting topics, including the process of aging, how robotics might make humans more intelligent, how to control pandemics—and this one on the brain.”

“Modern science has shown that you have the ability to positively correct your brain at any age, at any stage,” said Todd Sampson at the Breakthrough party.

In Sampson’s introduction to the screening he recalled how making two series of Redesign My Brain have taken him “all around the world, exploring the brain’s potential … how we could rewire, what we could fix, what we couldn’t fix …” Walking evidence of the benefits of brain training, he told the crowd, “My task was to prove brain plasticity on global television, using my brain as the experiment”, and flicked an MRI image of his grey matter onto the screens. “This brain is arguably the most studied non-sick brain on the planet: four years, three continents, 25 scientists, nearly 37 hours in your scanners … fMRI scanners, CAT scanners… I’ve spent more time in these machines than the average human should ever spend in these machines!!” Sampson joked. “And all of these scientists came to exactly the same conclusion about my brain.” His next slide showed a single word: ORDINARY. His point: getting to EXTRAORDINARY is possible for us all.

“‘Decoding the Brain’ is showing some of the frontier work in this space,” concluded Sampson as guests settled in to watch the episode. “This documentary series is helping push us into new places and I’m thrilled that GE is one of those companies pushing us, because the more we learn, the better we can all be …”

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