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Brain Games

TV review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
Brain Games TV Poster Image
Captivating look at mind's abilities, but content can vary.
Popular with kids

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 13 reviews

Kids say

age 7+
Based on 10 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Educational Value

The series explores how the brain processes information, allowing us to learn from it and commit it to memory. Experts introduce basic brain anatomy and put complicated scientific concepts into layman's terms that even kids can understand.

Positive Messages

The show offers a unique glimpse into the human brain to discover how it works and what loopholes in its wiring challenge our comprehension of what we see and hear. Partaking in the brainteasers and other tests helps exercise audience members' brains and increase their own cognitive awareness.

Positive Role Models & Representations

In some cases, the hosts put volunteers in situations that range from mildly irritating to truly frightening. They never push the subjects into anything they don't want to do, but the result still can be disturbing to watch. The purpose always is to learn, though, and they follow up each experiment with a thorough explanation of how the brain responds to such stimuli.

Violence & Scariness

Some topics incorporate more violent content than others. A segment about how the brain processes fear shows experiments designed to play on volunteers' anxiety by simulating bugs and snakes crawling on their skin, for instance. In another, a demon face suddenly appears on the screen to scare the audience. Predators stalk and kill their prey, which gets bloody, and through the magic of make-up, people are made to look like zombies, monsters, and amputation victims. Guns and other weapons are visible, there's mention of suicide, and some experiments would be dangerous if done at home.

Sexy Stuff

"F--k" is bleeped, and is spoken as a response to intense fear.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Brain Games is a fascinating exploration of the science behind how we process information, perceive our surroundings, and respond to stimuli, as demonstrated by experiments, optical illusions, and brainteasers that encourage audience participation. Even kids can get in on the fun, and once they're engaged, they'll learn about how the brain is hardwired to keep us safe, happy, and focused. That said, some episodes explore concepts like fear and anxiety, and it can be uncomfortable to watch the subjects endure those experiments, so it's best to preview them before you watch with your kids. Be prepared for some strong, but bleeped language in response to stress and unpredictably violent and frightening content, as when animals kill and eat prey or volunteers scream their way through a haunted house. While most of the experiments are fine to replicate at home, a few have a danger factor that should be brought to your kids' attention.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byConcerned88 April 28, 2013

Be aware, sexual content sneaks in...

The episode of brain games tonite featured a seemingly innocent high school football practice in which you had to be in the role of referee and judge if a kick... Continue reading
Adult Written bysetkdcaldwell March 27, 2015

Just a little dog poop in the brownies.

Shame on National Geographic! Could have been a great show except they intentionally include inappropriate content. Why?! I watched four episodes and they a... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byyoda1494 February 4, 2014

toys with you mind

this is a great way to become more attentive to your surroundings and what you are able to do
Kid, 10 years old February 21, 2015

Great look at the world!

This is a great TV show! I've always loved illusions and this is the best!

What's the story?

When it comes to solving puzzles or identifying danger, our brains are wired for specific tasks that help us process a barrage of information each second of the day. BRAIN GAMES is an investigative series that delves into the unique characteristics of the human brain, illustrating how they work with a series of experiments and brainteasers that test the subjects' perception skills. How does sound change our interpretation of visual images? How sharp is peripheral vision? Why are some things easier to remember than others? These and other curious questions are answered by baffling stunts and unbelievable tricks that expose the stumbling blocks in the miraculous machine that is the human brain.

Is it any good?

Hosted by Jason Silva, Brain Games puts your mind to the test with visual illusions and cerebral experiments that play on the brain's shortcomings before calling in experts to explain how and why our cognition works the way it does. Not only are the tests an eye-opening journey into the mysteries of the mind, they're also entertaining for a range of ages, making this a fun pick for families to take in together. Most of the brainteasers are simple enough for kids to follow along, asking you to identify differences between scenes or count objects as they fly across the screen. What isn't simple is coming face to face with how often our brains' wondrous abilities stand in the way of our basic comprehension skills.

Most of the subject matter covered in this mesmerizing series is fine for all ages, but some episodes explore topics that aren't so lighthearted. In these cases, the subjects' responses to experiments are considerably more anxious (participants face the fear of possible injury or are desensitized to ramp up their anxiety, for instance), and it will frighten sensitive kids. For this reason, it's best to scan each episode ahead of time if you plan on watching with your youngsters.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what they learn from this show. How does the brain decide what information to process and what to disregard? How does this help us maneuver in a world surrounded by multiple stimuli?

  • What activities are good exercises for your brain? Do you know how or why they help improve memory or perception? Why are these skills important?

  • Use this series to try new family activities that are good for mind power. Do puzzles, solve riddles, or play games designed to enhance your brain's abilities. As time goes on, do you notice these tasks getting easier? Why do you think that is?

TV details

Themes & Topics

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