Blow your mind with National Geographic’s Brain Games

“I’m excited for people to see how we can so easily hack, trick and fool the most complicated object in the universe – the brain”


Brain Games host Jason Silva describes himself as the “wow guy”, the man who’s going to guide you through various brain games that’ll smash your perceptions of reality.


From forcing your brain to see running water spiral in one direction and then the other, to understanding why you feel scared, feel motion and engage with the world around you, the ‘norm’ will be dispelled. It’s a brain workout. But not too tough after a day’s work Jason promises.

The show itself is a spin-off from a three part special in 2011 and has had huge success in the States. It’s currently the highest rated new series premiere in the history of National Geographic.

The show takes place in various locations, from factories to Vegas, and encourages viewers at home to get involved in games designed to fool you (in a nice way). You’ll see a brain game on screen and then watch man on the street fall for the same thing.

There are a few of those annoying brain-teaser questions. You know the if-Mary’s-mother-has-four-daughter types that are so simple when you know the answer, but so irritating when you don’t (yes, Jason tried one on me. I got it wrong, I’m still bitter).  

Boys take on the girls in one episode and Jason admits – it’s the boys who do better. And it’s a packing the boot of a car task. How annoying. But generally, Jason said most people were happy to have a go, saying it’s proven to be a real winner for families.

Jason’s not the expert he confesses. He spends most of the time getting the games wrong – but that’s his job. To learn with the audience, distill the information and translate it as ‘smartertainment’. We think he made that up, but we’ll go with it. 

But it’s not a magic show. It’s certainly not Derren Brown says Jason, who replies, “Derren who?”

Jason explains, “I definitely don’t want people to compare it to a magic show, because it isn’t. It’s a pop science series about neuroscience. We’re not lying to you with the tricks. We’re not trying to get you to see things that aren’t there. The fooling part is indirect.

“My idea is big ideas. Distilling big ideas. Thinking about what things imply. What you see isn’t what you get,” Jason adds, before describing himself as a “professional wonder junkie”.

And wonder you will as you watch Jason try a type of Russian roulette with broken glass stuffed inside plastic bags, before marvelling as the experts unpick our various misconceptions of the brain.

“I hope that in a fun and non-threatening way people will learn to question everything. People are very comfortable in their comfort zones – we want to ease them into a new world.

“I am addicted to being enthralled,” Jason explains. And has Jason been enthralled by anything on our UK screens?

“Susan Boyle – I love her. I loved that video, where she sang and moved everyone to tears. I thought it was so beautiful.” Nice one SuBo.


Brain Games starts Monday 3 June at 8pm on National Geographic