Main content

Anil Seth

Michael Berkeley’s guest is neuroscientist Anil Seth. Music by Bach, Chopin and Nina Simone.

It’s the size and shape of a cauliflower, and weighs about 3 lbs. And yet the average human brain has so many intricate and complex connections that if you counted one connection every second it would take you more than three million years.

Professor Anil Seth has devoted his career to trying to understand the brain, puzzling over the mystery of consciousness itself. He’s Professor of Cognitive and Computational Neuroscience at the Sackler Centre at the University of Sussex, and the author of a popular book, “The 30-second Brain”. In Private Passions, he muses on how our consciousness of the world, and of ourselves, is “one of the big central mysteries of life”. And it’s a mystery we face every day – when we fall asleep and when we wake up. In conversation with Michael Berkeley, Anil Seth explores the concept of free will (he doesn’t believe in it); why music evokes such strong memories; and how meditation changes the structure of the brain.

Music choices include Chopin, Bach, Nina Simone, and an ancient Hindi mantra.

A Loftus production for BBC Radio 3
Produced by Elizabeth Burke

Available now

32 minutes

Last on

Sun 23 Jun 2019 12:00

Music Played

  • Frédéric Chopin

    Prelude in D flat major (Raindrop)

    Performer: Alexandre Tharaud.
  • Johann Sebastian Bach

    Magnificat in D major

    Conductor: Stephen Cleobury. Singer: Susan Gritton.
  • Antonio Vivaldi

    Concerto in B flat major for violin and strings (2nd mvt: Andante)

    Performer: Giacomo Agazzini. Performer: Ezio Bosso. Orchestra: Orquesta sinfónica de Madrid.
  • Walter Donaldson

    Love me or leave me

    Singer: Nina Simone.
  • Billy Taylor

    I wish I knew (how it would feel to be free)

    Composer: Dick Dallas. Ensemble: Billy Taylor Trio.
  • Enrique Granados

    Spanish Dance no.5

    Performer: John Williams.
  • Traditional Indian

    Gayati Mantra

    Performer: Anuradha Paudwal.
  • Lin‐Manuel Miranda

    Alexander Hamilton (Hamilton)

    Performer: Lin‐Manuel Miranda. Performer: Renée Elise Goldsberry. Performer: Alex Lacamoire.


  • Sun 4 Nov 2018 12:00
  • Sun 23 Jun 2019 12:00

What makes Boogie-woogie piano legend Jools Holland tick?

What makes Boogie-woogie piano legend Jools Holland tick?

For Private Passions, Jools Holland revealed his piano history to Michael Berkeley.

11 things we learned from Harry Enfield’s Private Passions

11 things we learned from Harry Enfield’s Private Passions

Harry doesn't usually give interviews – but he couldn't say no to Michael Berkeley.

Archive Unlocked: Two Decades of Private Passions

Archive Unlocked: Two Decades of Private Passions

Michael Berkeley introduces memorable interviews from Private Passions' archives.